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Chelsea thump Middlesbrough to Carabao Cup final

By Primenewsghana
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Chelsea reached the Carabao Cup final by blowing away second-tier Middlesbrough to seal a 6-2 aggregate victory.

The Championship side headed to Stamford Bridge with a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

But Chelsea scored four times in the first half through a Jonny Howson own goal, Enzo Fernandez, Axel Disasi and Cole Palmer.

Palmer's second and Noni Madueke completed the rout, before Morgan Rogers scored a consolation to delight the large and noisy away support.

Chelsea have secured a place at Wembley on 25 February, and will face Liverpool or Fulham, who meet at Craven Cottage in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday, with the Reds 2-1 up in the tie.

Mauricio Pochettino's side levelled this tie on aggregate after 15 minutes, when Ben Chilwell - making his first club start for 118 days - cut Boro's defence open with an incisive through ball.

Raheem Sterling then squared towards Armando Broja in the box, and Boro captain Howson, attempting to intervene, inadvertently directed the ball into his own net off his shin.

Chelsea then went ahead in the tie for the first time as Sterling and Disasi combined down the right, before the onrushing Enzo fired the low cross high past Boro keeper Tom Glover.

Boro were the architects of their own downfall for the third and fourth goals of the first half. First, centre-back Matt Clarke gave the ball away with a loose pass. Chelsea countered, with Disasi bursting into the area to stroke Sterling's pass into the far corner.

The fourth was even more egregious as Dan Barlaser was dispossessed on the edge of his own area by Palmer, who slotted past Glover.

Palmer, who missed three golden chances in the first leg, made amends here with the fifth goal as he clinically finished Conor Gallagher's cut-back, before Madueke smashed past Glover via a deflection off Rav van den Berg.

Rogers, who has been linked with Aston Villa this month, pulled one back for Boro with a fine finish into Djordje Petrovic's far corner - but Chelsea had long since ensured a place in the final.

Chelsea eviscerate error-prone Boro

Having had 18 shots without scoring at Riverside Stadium, Chelsea were far more ruthless here and produced moments of slick attacking play and Premier League quality.

They were also helped by a Middlesbrough side who, having ridden a feverish atmosphere in their home leg to record a famous win, looked much more like a second-division squad ravaged by injury.

Isaiah Jones, so impressive in the first game, was absent after limping off against Rotherham on Saturday. Howson, who had been a doubt, struggled as the makeshift third centre-back and was caught out of position for Enzo's killer second goal.

Boro had started the better side before conceding, and had a golden chance at 1-0 following a smart short corner routine, which ended in Rogers being denied at the near post by Petrovic.

But Chelsea, themselves with a long list of absentees injured or on international duty, picked Boro's defence apart and accepted their gifts to seal a comfortable win without having to get into top gear.

They continued to press in the second half - Sterling almost dispossessed Dael Fry in the Boro six-yard box with the goal gaping, before Palmer added the fifth - while Boro were denied as Matt Crooks was flagged offside after heading past Petrovic, before Rogers did score in front of a packed away end.

It is the Blues' first major final since co-owner Todd Boehly completed his takeover in May 2022.