This was the third time we’ve failed to progress from the semi-final of the competition having won the first leg. We are becoming the bridesmaids, never the bride. Again, we were so near, but so far.
We could just shrug our shoulders and say that this is a Mickey Mouse tournament, but a Mickey Mouse cup is something (better than nothing). Now it only leaves the FA Cup, UEFA Champions League and Premier League for us (good luck with those competitions!).
But at the end of the day, it was down to penalties, not superiority on the field, which I suppose is something (penalties are a lottery). Yes, Chelsea won at their ground but failed to win over two games. Anyhow: Chelsea won a penalty shootout on a night of high drama at Stamford Bridge, overcoming us to secure a Carabao Cup final.
It was one of those days. I got up at 5 am, the gym at 6.30, back home for something to eat, and then back for an hours swim, followed by a sauna, work for a while and left home to go to town and dentist, and from there to South Ruislip and to my usual parking space. I was offered a lift to Ruislip Manor from my cousin’s son (who is a Spurs supporter). Then caught a train to Earls Court, from Earls Court to Fulham Broadway. I got there at 5ish.
Had tea and something to eat and then to the ground. Saw friends, chatted and then found my seat. I must say, even though everybody stood, the seating arrangements were in such a way that you could sit and just about see (so I was bobbing up and down like a Jack in the box).
Chelsea did put on a fireworks display before the match, teams out, then in and out (shake it all about) and then ready. Just before the kick-off squad names were read out, then the whistle was blown and we were off.
Trailing 1-0 from the semi-final first leg at Wembley, Chelsea were level on aggregate when the unmarked N’Golo Kante drilled in a first-time shot from 20 yards through three pairs of legs after a corner. Eden Hazard, who Blues boss Sarri said on the eve of the tie “has to do more”, fired Chelsea into a 2-1 aggregate lead with an arrowed finish after being picked out by captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
As you all know, we were without injured duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli as well as Son Heung-min, who is away with South Korea at the Asian Cup.
We failed to produce a shot on target in the first half but forced penalties when Fernando Llorente converted Danny Rose’s cross.
After an enthralling 90 minutes which saw the tie end 2-2 on aggregate, the tie was settled when David Luiz scored the winning kick after Kepa Arrizabalaga’s fine save from Lucas Moura.
After the disappointment of the night, we all marched to Fulham station (that is those that wanted to go that way, others were lost in the midst of the night).
Walking to the station, amongst Chelsea fans, all you could hear were their joys and waves of laughter. Not a murmur from our fans other than a few choruses of “Yiddo,” which you could hear in the distance. No trouble, no fighting, no abuse, just a mixture of joy and sadness.
Once at the station time quickly past and before you knew it I was travelling on the M4 to home. I was shattered.
So that was the night of drama. We lost, and now we must move on to the FA Cup 4th Rd game against Palace on Sunday. Which is followed by Watford in the league at Wembley. Still all to play for, just not in the League Cup.
If we win the FA Cup then this Semi-Final will be a distant memory, if we lose then we will look back at what could have been… as I said, so near, but so far.
Until Sunday, take care and let us hope the next game up will give us another avenue of hope.
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