Kepa Arrizabalaga came to Chelsea’s rescue by saving a last-minute penalty in the extra-time after Marcos Alonso came in to break Plymouth Argyle hearts at Stamford Bridge, but it was far from straightforward for the Blues.
Chelsea, without Thomas Tuchel after the German tested positive for Covid-19, were made to work by their organised League One opponents in West London.
Rookie boss Steven Schumacher showed off impressive tactical nous by lining his side up in such a way that nullified the Blues for large spells
But ultimately Argyle couldn’t quite deny their illustrious opponents victory, with the West Londoners squeezing through after Kepa’s late penalty save.
Chelsea Player Ratings by The Sun:
Powerless to prevent Macauley Gillesphie’s early header beating him down low.
Nearly assisted Kai Havertz with a brilliant long kick over the top after a comfortable save. Was alert to rush out and deny Ryan Hardie one-on-one, before palming away Ryan Broom’s effort in extra time.
Made himself the penalty hero once again by saying Hardie’s late spot kick.
CESAR AZPILICUETA – 7
Stung Michael Cooper’s palms with a decent low effort from range. Levelled on the stroke of half-time with a smart back-heeled finish.
Spaniard was denied a second back-heeled goal by the offside flag. Again worked Cooper after getting in-behind in the 71st minute. Azpilicueta was one of Chelsea’s most threatening players in the initial 90 minutes.
ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN – 5
Given a few headaches by Argyle’s front line before being hooked at half-time.
A forgettable outing for the Dane.
ANTONIO RUDIGER – 5
Beaten in the air by Macauley Gillesphey for Argyle’s shock opener.
Needlessly got involved in a minor tussle with one of Argyle’s substitutes. Often bullied by Argyle’s industrious forwards.
MALANG SARR – 4
Struggled to offer the Blues any outlet down the left flank in the first-half.
Frenchman was moved to centre-back in the second 45. Clumsily gave the ball away to Ryan Hardie, before bundling the Argyle substitute over for a late penalty.
JORGINHO – 4
Flashed an early shot narrowly wide. Deservedly booked for cynically bringing Luke Jephcott down and stopping a promising counter attack.
Italian was completely nullified by Jephcott in the first half, with the Argyle forward smartly man marking him whenever Chelsea had possession. Jorginho frustrated Stamford Bridge at times with some rushed, errant passes.
HAKIM ZIYECH – 5
Swung a number of crosses into the box in the first-half, but struggled to find a blue shirt with any of them.
Moroccan started the second half by flashing a dangerous ball across the six yard box, with Romelu Lukaku somehow not getting a touch that surely would have resulted in a goal.
MATEO KOVACIC – 6
Crashed a shot off the crossbar from close range.
Was frustrated by the woodwork once again when a low drive from the edge of the box struck the post later in the first half. Hooked for Timo Werner late on.
MASON MOUNT – 6
Midfielder was uncharacteristically quiet in the first half, before delivering the cross to set up Azpilicueta’s 41st minute equaliser.
Struggled to leave his fingerprints on the game as he normally would, but provided a reminder of his quality with his assist. Denied late on in the initial 90 by a sensational reflex stop by Cooper.
CALLUM HUDSON-ODOI – 5
Became the latest Blues player to hit the woodwork when he glanced a header off the bar on the half hour.
Winger failed to win his duel with impressive Argyle right-back Joe Edwards.
ROMELU LUKAKU – 4
Well marshalled in the first-half, the Belgian struggled to get any change out of Argyle’s back three.
Lukaku was brilliantly denied one-on-one by the alert Cooper early in the second period. Had some moments of decent link up play but too often lacked the required quality.
Marcos Alonso (for Christensen, 46) – 7
Denied by the onrushing Cooper early on in the second-half, although his next shot ended up in Row Z. Wasn’t to be denied in extra time, when he broke Argyle hearts by prodding Kai Havertz’s cut-back home.
Kai Havertz (for Hudson-Odoi, 64) – 6
Dallied when through on goal shortly after coming on. Spared his blushes by the offside flag after scuffing wide with the goal at his mercy. Cool cut-back assisted Alonso’s extra time winner.
Timo Werner (for Kovacic, 82) – 6
Denied a one-on-one late on by a sensational James Wilson challenge. One-two with Havertz helped set up Alonso’s winner.
Saul Niguez (for Mount, 97) – 5
Midfielder made little impact on the game.
Trevoh Chalobah (for Azpilicueta, 111) – N/A
Brought on to help shore things up in extra time.
Subs not used: Bettinelli, Sharman-Lowe, Kenedy, Barkley
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