Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea is too tough for Steve McClaren's battling Derby

Cesc Fabregas believes Chelsea have the "talent, discipline and courage" to win four titles this season after they defeated 10-man Derby 3-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup.

The Blues are sitting top of the Barclays Premier League and have progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League, while they are yet to play their first FA Cup game this season.

A Filipe Luis stunner helped Chelsea clinch victory over Steve McClaren's Derby, with the defender's superb free-kick and Eden Hazard's opener making it a comfortable night for Jose Mourinho at the iPro Stadium.

Derby briefly rallied after Craig Bryson pulled a late goal back but their hopes ended when Jake Buxton was sent off for a foul on Loic Remy and Andre Schurrle added a third.

The visitors lost Kurt Zouma after a serious-looking collision with goalkeeper Petr Cech but they were in cruise control and rarely got out of third gear.

"These kind of games are always difficult," Fabregas commented.

"It was the game of the season for them and they will always give their best and we have to be up for it. I think the coach knows that. But we had a very strong line-up and we deserved to go through.

"I'm enjoying it. We have a very strong squad, not just the team. Everyone performs really well and we will need everyone until the end of the season if we want to go for everything."

When asked if he thought Chelsea could be successful on all four fronts, Fabregas added: "Time will tell. It's all up to us. We definitely have the talent, the discipline and the courage to do it from what I've seen so far from my short time here.

"I can see a team doing well but we have to work hard for it and at the end of the season we will speak about it," he added.

Mourinho was pleased with the professionalism shown by his side, but gave credit to Derby following their performance.

"They are a Championship side but not a typical Championship side," Mourinho said. "They have more quality than that.

"They play good football and have fantastic support and we knew it was going to be difficult but we played in a very professional way and we controlled the game for most of the time.

"They fought until the end and a few minutes after they scored their goal they were able to put us in trouble."

The Portuguese also praised man-of-the-match Fabregas, who moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer.

Mourinho added: "He is doing so well for us and what I like especially, more than his quality, is as a person. He's a professional."

The match was a reminder to the Rams, should they earn promotion to the Barclays Premier League, of the challenges they face.

Mourinho issued his intent as Fabregas, Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry and Didier Drogba - who came off injured - started while Derby boss McClaren, the former England supremo, made just two changes.

Buxton came in for the suspended Ryan Shotton in defence while Will Hughes replaced Jeff Hendrick in midfield.

Third in the Sky Bet Championship, the Rams competed well with the top flight leaders without creating any openings.

But County hit the self destruct button on 23 minutes to gift the visitors the lead.

Richard Keogh was robbed on the edge of the Derby box by Hazard, he played a one-two with Fabregas and the Belgium star danced past three challenges to fire into the bottom corner.

It was ruthless Chelsea's first shot on target.

Aside from a flurry of corners late in the half, Cech was a spectator, until he clattered into Zouma while he punched away the final corner a minute before the break.

The defender was poleaxed and needed treatment but while their club doctors attended to the player Chelsea were frustrated by the stretcher-bearers.

Angered by their slow speed Fabregas and Azpilicueta grabbed the stretcher and helped carry it to their stricken team-mate.

Chelsea brilliantly extended their lead on 56 minutes, Luis firing home a wonderful effort.

But the Rams grabbed a lifeline with 19 minutes left, Bryson curling in off the post.

On 78 minutes Buxton was dismissed after he pulled Remy back.

And four minutes later Chelsea wrapped up the win when Schurrle made it 3-1.

Belfast Telegraph

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