By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 2 v Wimbledon 1
Chelsea got there in the end, dispatching a robust and well organised League Two outfit Wimbledon 2-1 at the Bridge.
Goals from Noni from the spot, which equalised a penalty from James Tilley, and a long-range effort from substitute Enzo, put the Blues into the 3rd round of the Carabao Cup, but they had to work harder than they really should have needed to.
It was a tepid start to the game, with Chelsea understandably in possession-mode without attacking threat, and the Dons in defensive-mode without attacking threat.
But then, the game exploded into life on 17 minutes when the visitors were awarded a penalty.
An attempted punch out clearance from goalkeeper Robert Sanchez resulted in a punch in the head on Harry Pell.
Referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot.
Up stepped James Tilley, who smashed the ball home, straight down the middle.
Ian Maatsen almost got a leveller on 34 minutes when his shot was deflected off Joe Lewis, but the ball smashed in to the side-netting for a corner.
It was in the 1995/96 season that Chelsea last lost in the second round of the League cup, a 1-0 aggregate defeat to Stoke City.
On the pitch success and European commitments had meant the Blues entered at a later stage ever since.
That is until today, where a 12th finish in last season’s Premier League brought the 90s feel back to SW6.
Then a minute before half-time, Noni, the man of the match so far produced a mazy run into the penalty area from the right wing before he was upended for a spot kick.
He took the kick himself and dropped the ball safely wide of Alex Bass to make it 1-1.
Chelsea made one change at half-time, on came Nicolas Jackson, off went ineffectual Diego Moreira.
It took Jackson two minute to have his first effort on goal, an edge of the area, shot that Bass did well to parry to safety.
The second half was played out in a similar vein to the first – the home side on top of the ball, the away side, scrapping for set pieces, preferably in and around the the penalty area.
This frustrated Pochettino, who, after 65 minutes opted for two more changes – on came Enzo and Malo Gusto, off went Mason Burstow and Levi Colwell. Colwell went down the tunnel rather than going to his team-mates on the bench, suggesting he may have suffered a knock.
Enzo tried a long-range shot on 69 minutes, which Bass produced a ‘Hollywood’ save that bent for a corner.
Disaster struck for Wimbledon on 72 minutes when Bass, up till then impeccable, came out to hack away a Marc Cucurella long ball. But he sliced the ball into Maatsen, the ball then pinged off Joe Lewis into the gleeful path of Enzo who struck the ball home in to an empty net from 30 yards out.
Bass redeemed himself – a bit – by thwarting a shot from Noni three minutes later as Chelsea went for the jugular.
Mind, that was his last action for the night as Moises Caicedo entered the fray for him, with 10 minutes left.
Teams: Chelsea Sanchez, Disasi, Cucurella, Madueke, Ugochuckwu, Gallagher, Colwell, Maatsen, Burstow, Samuels-Smith, Chilwell
Wimbledon, Bass, Johnson, Tilley, Pell, Davison, Neufville, Pearce, Ball, Williams, Lewis, Ogundere
Subs< Tzanev, Brown, Al-Hamadi, Bugiel,Lock, Sutcliffe, Sasu, Jennings
Referee: Tony Harrington
Pictured top: Noni score the equaliser for Chelsea from the penalty spot. Picture: PA
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