Cesc Fabregas scored twice in extra time as Chelsea came from two goals down to beat 10-man Leicester and reach the EFL Cup fourth round.
Shinji Okazaki’s header and instinctive strike put Leicester in control, but Gary Cahill nodded in before the break.
Cesar Azpilicueta equalised with a long-range effort before Foxes defender Marcin Wasilewski was sent off.
Fabregas’ clipped finish put Chelsea ahead early in the first extra period and a powerful shot sealed the win.
It had been a pulsating cup tie – particularly in the second half – with chances at both ends but Wasilewski’s dismissal for elbowing Diego Costa ultimately proved costly.
Chelsea deserved to progress but Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri will perhaps be buoyed by his side’s performance for much of the game, with glimpses of the incisive attacking and compact defending that helped them win the title last season.
Slick in attack, sloppy in defence
Chelsea have scored in every game this season and their attacking strength came to the fore towards the end of this game.
However, their defensive frailties should continue to be a cause for concern for boss Antonio Conte.
Only once in their previous 14 games in all competitions have the Blues kept a clean sheet – and they were needlessly exposed in the first half of this game.
Azpilicueta’s awkward touch when trying to deal with Ahmed Musa’s cross allowed Okazaki to nip in and flick a header over Asmir Begovic, and the Foxes forward then profited from a static backline to score a second.
“Chelsea’s decision-making when under pressure was poor,” said BBC Radio 5 live summariser and former Leicester defender Gerry Taggart. “We are talking about basics. Clear the ball first, then ask questions. Some of Chelsea’s decision-making was abysmal.”
Back from the fringes?
Fabregas has been unable to establish himself under Conte, with the Spanish midfielder restricted to appearances from the bench in the Premier League so far this season.
His only two starts for the Italian have come in the EFL Cup – but he was arguably the standout player for the Blues in this game.
The 29-year-old has been criticised for a lack of goals in the past – he scored six last season and five the campaign before – but took both his finishes well against the Foxes and also provided the assist for Cahill’s goal.
His was a performance to give Conte food for thought.
Man of the match – Cesc Fabregas
What they said
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri: “I am happy with our performance until 2-0. We started very well and we were in control of the match. Chelsea had more possession but we were very smart and clever to score twice.
“The key was when we conceded a goal on the last corner of the half – we lost two dangerous men, Luiz and Cahill.
“In extra time I said stay together and close the space, but Fabregas scored and it was very difficult for us.”
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte: “It’s important when I call someone to play and they show me my choice is not wrong.
“I am pleased for Cesc because he played a good game, he showed me great commitment in the training sessions. I am satisfied when I see this behaviour.
“This is the right way and I want my players to create good competition and, game by game, give me the opportunity to choose the best line-up.”
The stats you need to know
- Chelsea came back to win from two goals down for the first time in a game since 17 August 2002 v Charlton.
- Gary Cahill has scored five goals in all competitions since August 2015; three more than any other Chelsea defender.
- Shinji Okazaki netted his first brace for Leicester City after failing to score in his previous 13 games for the Foxes.
Leicester return to Premier League action at the weekend with a tricky away fixture at Manchester United on Saturday. Chelsea, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat by Liverpool last time out in the league when they travel to Arsenal, also on Saturday.
Source: BBC Sport