Chelsea thump Middlesbrough to reach EFL Cup final
Chelsea reached the Carabao Cup final by blowing away second-tier Middlesbrough to seal a 6-2 aggregate victory.
The Championship side headed to Stamford Bridge with a 1-0 lead from the first leg.
But Chelsea scored four times in the first half through a Jonny Howson’s own goal, Enzo Fernandez, Axel Disasi and Cole Palmer.
Palmer’s second and Noni Madueke completed the rout before Morgan Rogers scored a consolation to delight the large and noisy away support.
Chelsea have secured a place at Wembley on 25 February and will face Liverpool or Fulham, who meet at Craven Cottage in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday, with the Reds 2-1 up in the tie.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side levelled this tie on aggregate after 15 minutes when Ben Chilwell – making his first club start for 118 days – cut Boro’s defence open with an incisive through ball.
Raheem Sterling then squared towards Armando Broja in the box, and Boro captain Howson, attempting to intervene, inadvertently directed the ball into his own net off his shin.
Chelsea then went ahead in the tie for the first time as Sterling and Disasi combined down the right, before the onrushing Enzo fired the low cross high past Boro keeper Tom Glover.
Boro were the architects of their own downfall for the third and fourth goals of the first half. First, centre-back Matt Clarke gave the ball away with a loose pass. Chelsea countered, with Disasi bursting into the area to stroke Sterling’s pass into the far corner.
The fourth was even more egregious as Dan Barlaser was dispossessed on the edge of his own area by Palmer, who slotted past Glover.
Palmer, who missed three golden chances in the first leg, made amends here with the fifth goal as he clinically finished Conor Gallagher’s cut-back before Madueke smashed past Glover via a deflection off Rav van den Berg.
Rogers, who has been linked with Aston Villa this month, pulled one back for Boro with a fine finish into Djordje Petrovic’s far corner – but Chelsea had long since ensured a place in the final.