Chelsea has booked a place in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a hard-fought but ultimately deserved victory over Brighton, with Nicolas Jackson’s strike early in the second half proving the difference between the teams.
According to information posted on Chelsea website, Nicolas Jackson was unlucky not to have ended the match with a hat-trick, being denied by an incorrect offside call from the officials and an excellent save by Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen, but will no doubt be content with the single goal which gave as a hard-fought victory and booked our place in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
The first half was tight and hotly contested, with neither team allowing the other time or space on the ball, anywhere on the pitch. That resulted in plenty of intensity, but little in the way of clear chances.
That changed shortly after half-time, though, when a series of quick passes by Moises Caicedo, Ian Maatsen and Cole Palmer found Jackson with the room to stroke a shot into the bottom corner and open the scoring.
Chelsea grew in confidence following that goal and seemed more likely to extend our lead than concede an equaliser, including Jackson finding the net again only to have it chalked off, although Robert Sanchez was required to make a strong save and make sure of the win.
Chelsea made a promising start with direct runs toward goal by Mykhailo Mudryk and Nicolas Jackson, as well as a lovely link-up between Cole Palmer, Marc Cucurella and Ian Maatsen on the right.
It was Mudryk who drew the first save with a curling effort from outside the box, which had power, but was too close to the keeper.
Chelsea received a warning with a strong run of Brighton’s own, though, Kaoru Mitoma swerving around the outside of Cucurella. It was far from plain sailing during the opening exchanges, mainly due to Brighton’s high press causing us problems as we attempted to build from the back.
It was a tight and enthralling opening. We came close to striking the first blow when Mudryk produced a lovely spin to evade Tariq Lamptey before exchanging passes with Palmer and flying forward. However, when he tried to play in Jackson, Jan Paul van Hecke got across well to block his first-time shot. It summed up much of what both teams were producing, just missing that cutting edge to create a clear opportunity, despite plenty of intensity to the game.
Chelsea had a big let off just after the 20-minute mark. A wayward pass out by Robert Sanchez was intercepted, but Joao Pedro’s attempted chip dropped just beyond the bar onto the top of the net. There was another warning when Moises Caicedo went down under pressure on the edge of our box, but play continued and Sanchez had to save well to his left to deny Ansu Fati.
However, the tables were turned when Jackson won the ball not far outside of Brighton’s box and charged into the area. He then went down in a tangle of legs with Carlos Baleba, the Blues supporters screaming for a penalty, but the referee was unmoved and there was no VAR in operation to disagree with him.
Despite another strong penalty shout for Chelsea, this time Mudryk going down under a sliding challenge, a fiercely contested but ultimately fruitless first half ended without either team managing to truly open up the opposition.
Chelsea Vs Brighton: Jackson Lifts the Pressure
It only took five minutes of the second half for Chelsea to take the lead, though, as we upped our tempo in the opening minutes following the break, and it quickly paid off.
It was a well-worked goal, starting with Caicedo playing forward out of midfield. Maatsen’s clever pass around the corner found Palmer, who in turn spotted Jackson had made himself space in the Brighton box.
The striker’s finish was confident and instinctive, rolling a first-time shot into the bottom-left corner and giving us the lead.
The Blues grew in confidence with that goal and Jackson was denied a second by a strong save by the outstretched leg of Bart Verbruggen not long afterwards, when a determined run by Mudryk ended with the ball breaking for the Senegal international, but he couldn’t find a way past the Brighton keeper this time.
Even when Jackson did have the ball in the net again, at the end of another nice exchange of first-time passes involving Maatsen and Palmer, the linesman flagged for offside and ruled it out, although replays would show that decision to be incorrect.
Instead Brighton went straight up the other end on the attack, and it needed a strong hand from Sanchez to keep out Solly March’s diving header. We should have been 2-0 up, but in the end had to be grateful just to have kept our one-goal advantage intact.
The result wasn’t safe by any stretch of the imagination, but as the game entered the final 10 minutes, there was definitely a feeling that the game was slipping away from Brighton. If we could keep our heads and keep the pressure on the Seagulls, victory was there for the taking.
There was a nervous moment in added time, when Joao Pedro lashed a volley over the bar when Axel Disasi’s headed clearance fell in his direction in the box. With that exception, we were able to see things out with no real chances of note for either side, ensuring it is Chelsea who progress to the next stage of the competition.
It is Chelsea’s name which goes into the draw for the Carabao Cup fourth round, with our next match in the competition revealed to be a home tie with Blackburn Rovers not long after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge. That game will be played on the week of 30 October.
What Next for Chelsea
Chelsea are back in Premier League action for the late Monday evening kick-off, making the short trip to Fulham for an 8pm start on 2 October.
Sanchez; Cucurella, Disasi, Colwill, Chilwell (c); Ugochukwu, Caicedo; Maatsen (Gallagher 75), Palmer (Enzo 75), Mudryk (Sterling 67); Jackson (Broja 87)
Petrovic, Brooking, Gilchrist, Matos, Washington
Scorer: Jackson 50
Booked: Ugochukwu 44
Verbruggen; Lamptey, Van Hecke, Igor, Estupinan; Dahoud (Hinshelwood 70), Baleba (Gilmour 64); Buonanotte (Lallana 78), Fati (March h-t), Mitoma (Welbeck 64); Joao Pedro
Steele, Dunk, Veltman, Adingra
Booked: Baleba 42
Referee: Tom Bramall