Carling Cup: Chelsea dig deep
Chelsea 0 Fulham 0 (Chelsea win 4-3 on penalties): Chelsea’s penalty shoot-out curse ended in the most dramatic fashion last night as they survived the sending-off of Alex to beat Fulham and reach the Carling Cup fourth round.
Pajtim Kasami hit the crossbar with a second-half spot-kick after Alex saw red and Bryan Ruiz did the same in the subsequent shoot-out, with replays inconclusive as to whether the ball crossed the line.
Chelsea's win improved their miserable record of seven penalty shoot-out defeats from their previous eight and gave manager Andre Villas-Boas another chance to blood his youngsters in the next round.
Only a last-gasp Stephen Kelly challenge on Florent Malouda prevented them taking the lead 16 minutes in however, the Frenchman also whipping in a cross two minutes later that Salomon Kalou glanced wide.
Kalou fired narrowly off-target after Romelu Lukaku had seen his shot saved from a lightning breakaway that highlighted the latter's strength and pace on what was his first Chelsea start.
Fulham almost scored out of nothing when Ruiz, who had a much better game than his disastrous debut 10 days earlier, brilliantly played debutant Orlando Sa clean through but Alex recovered to make a superb tackle.
Two minutes after the restart, Kalou fired into the side-netting and moments later Fulham won the penalty that saw Alex dismissed. Ruiz's clever back-heel freed debutant Kerim Frei, who was brought down by Alex.
Referee Chris Foy deemed the Brazilian last man and produced a red card, but Kasami failed to capitalise, smashing the penalty against the crossbar.
In the shoot-out Lampard's penalty was immediately saved by Schwarzer, with Zamora, Luiz, Sidwell and Terry all scoring before Turnbull's save from Dembele levelled matters.
Kalou, Baird and Malouda then netted before Ruiz smashed Fulham's fifth against the crossbar, and possibly over the line, but it was not given.