• Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea, Capital One Cup

Mata blasts Chelsea into League Cup quarter-finals

ESPN staff
October 29, 2013
Chelsea through to the last eight

A stunning strike from Juan Mata sent Chelsea past Arsenal and into the last eight of the League Cup, but reheated the debate about the Spaniard's role under Jose Mourinho.

It was another Spaniard, Cesar Azpilicueta, who prodded the visitors ahead at the Emirates in the first half as he pounced on a short headed back pass from Carl Jenkinson to beat Lukasz Fabianski, the ball bouncing in off the post for Azpilicueta's first goal as a Chelsea player.

Arsenal were the stronger side for much of the evening, but a lacklustre showing from the recalled Nicklas Bendtner typified a frustrating evening for Arsene Wenger and his men.

It was rounded off in clinical fashion by Mata in the second half, as he picked up a headed clearance on the edge of the Arsenal box and thumped a swerving shot beyond Fabianski before celebrating in emphatic and pointed style with the Chelsea support.

The opening stages were lively enough but lacked clear-cut chances, with both defences quick to stop building danger. A blocked Samuel Eto'o effort in the opening seconds was the best Chelsea could muster until the 19th minute, when Kevin de Bruyne managed to test Lukasz Fabianski for the first time.

Six minutes later they had the lead, pouring forward after an Arsenal corner with a massively deflected ball from Michael Essien causing confusion in the Gunners defence. Despite Jack Wilshere being well placed to clear, Jenkinson chose to head back to Fabianski - a move Azpilicueta read, beating the Arsenal goalkeeper to the ball to poke home.

The right-back was clearly, and understandably, devastated by the mistake, which fellow full-back Monreal almost wiped out moments later. Nicklas Bendtner's pressure forced goalscorer Azpilicueta to give the ball straight to Monreal, whose fierce left-footed strike whistled just wide of the far post.

It was the closest either side came as the first half came to a close, with a horribly sliced Essien strike only noteworthy due to how bad it was.

Eto'o whistled a strike just wide shortly after the sides reemerged, although it was Arsenal that had the better of the early stages. Santi Cazorla swung an effort wide from the edge of the box, before Ramsey wriggled free to hit a strike that took a deflection and bobbled just wide.

The Wales international hit a right-footed strike just wide in the 63rd minute as Arsenal continued to press, before Wenger brought on Mesut Ozil, nominated for the FIFA Ballon d'Or earlier in the day.

Despite his introduction, Arsenal's chances were soon all but ended by another world-class performer. Meeting the ball on the edge of the box, Mata rifled home into the top corner in front of the Chelsea fans who had packed out the Clock End.

Substitute Olivier Giroud forced Mark Schwarzer into a save at his near post soon after his introduction, but the Gunners were still looking susceptible at the back. Ramires almost took advantage when he burst down the right and pulled back for Eto'o, who bundled his close-range effort just wide.

Wilshere fired over and Cazorla put wide as Arsenal looked for a late consolation that never came. Instead, Ramires saw an effort land on the roof of the net in stoppage time and, perhaps feeling sorry for the hosts, referee Phil Dowd did not even book Thomas Vermaelen for hauling down Demba Ba when last man. David Luiz also came close in the latter stages.

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