By Paul Lagan at Stamford |Bridge
Chelsea 1 v Brighton 0
Carabao Cup third round
It took a while, in fact 338 minutes but Chelsea finally scored a goal – and won again – this time a Carabao Cup match, at home to Brighton.
And the goal scorer was Nicolas Jackson, who looked at times, back to his pre-season best, where he ran, jinked past defenders with ease and showed calmness and quality and finishing.
His goal was evidence that perseverance does pay off.
Brighton can console themselves that they really should have buried the Blues – and nothing short of sloppiness stopped them from scoring.
A whipped, dipping shot by Mykhailo Mudryk, on three minutes signalled the Blues intent to try and hit an early goal. However Bart Verbruggen was more than equal to the effort and snatched the ball to safety.
From that point onwards, the Blues went backwards in their approach as the visitors asserted their authority and superior passing ability.
Good counter-attacking play by the Seagulls on 21 minutes saw Mahmoud Dahoud try his lick from 25 yards – he was not successful and shot well wide of Robert Sanchez’s goal.
A cock-up by ex-Brighton stopper Sanchez saw him tap the ball to Joao Pedro on the edge of the box. How he did not score is anybodies guess, an element of surprise, clearly evident, but he tried to dink the ball over the embarrassed stopper but dropped the ball onto the top of the net.
Red-faces all round.
The shambles at the back for the Blues continued on 33 minutes and they were fortunate to get away with it again as Sanchez grew frustrated with the ball, Ansu Fati nicked it back and almost scored but Sanchez somehow managed to tip the ball away for a corner.
There were no changes by the Blues at half-time. But it was Brighton who should have scored within two minutes of the restart, but they fluffed their lines, leaving Chelsea looking confused but grateful.
Incredible the 37,516 supporters can say they were there when Chelsea scored.
Nicolas Jackson popped up on 51 minutes to slide home the easiest chance of his career. He was teed up perfectly by Cole Palmer on the edge of the Brighton penalty area with the Brighton rearguard seemingly absent.
Chelsea previous goal was against AFC Dons since Enzo scored four weeks ago in the same competition 338 playing minutes ago.
Jackson was thwarted on 62 minutes from his second goal, when he broke free, stayed onside and had a shot on goal. Verbruggen had got his angles right and Jackson’s effort was goal-bound, but the keep stuck out his left left to deflect the ball away.
Head coach Mauricio Pochettino opted for his first chance, replacing ineffectual Mudryk for Raheem Sterling on 68 minutes.
As the minutes ticked by, the fans grew quiet, sensing that perhaps an equaliser was in the cards.
A thumper by Pedro deep into added time, suggested that their fears were justified.
But the Blues clung on.
Their last win was against AFC Wimbledon in this competition a month ago
Teams: Sanchez, Disasi, Mudryk, Jackson, Ugochukwu, Palmer, Chilwell, Caicedo, Colwill, Cucurella, Maatsen
Subs: Petrovic, ||Sterling, Enzo, Broja, Gallagher, Washington, Gilchrist, Brooking, Matos
Brighton: Verbruggen, Julio, Lamptey, Dahoud, Pedro, Baleba, Mitoma, Van Hecke, Estupinan, Fati, Buonanotte
Subs: Steele, Dunk, March, Gulmour, Lallana, Welbeck, Adingra, Veltman, Hinshelwood
Referee: Thomas Bramhall
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