Derby County bowed out of the Carabao Cup in the Fourth Round after a 3-2 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge despite a valiant effort.
Chelsea took the lead twice in the opening 20 minutes through own goals while a superb finish by Jack Marriott and a precise tap-in by Martyn Waghorn found equalisers. Cesc Fabregas put the Blues ahead just before the break to end the scoring.
Despite a flurry of great second-half chances by the Rams, they couldn’t find the equaliser.
Chelsea controlled possession for the opening minutes as Derby looked to settle in to the game. However, five minutes in and the visiting side found themselves a goal behind. Davide Zappacosta struck from the right side of the area which hit Fikayo Tomori on its way past Scott Carson.
Marriott was on hand a few minutes later to supply the equaliser with a wonderful finish to bag his fourth goal in five matches. It was Tom Huddlestone’s great work in the middle of the pitch to set it up when the midfielder stripped the ball by the half-way line before picking out Marriott on the left with an inch-perfect pass. Marriott struck cleanly and his low effort flew past Willy Caballero.
Derby had begun to stand up to the Premier League side and almost took the lead when Marriott played through to Waghorn. Derby’s No. 9 broke though but his shot was comfortably saved by Caballero.
It was Chesea who took the lead again when Zappacosta struck again and his low shot from the right edge of the area took a deflection off Richard Keogh on its way in.
The goals continued to pour in in the opening half an hour as the Rams pressed high. Mason Mount squared up to Waghorn for the forward to tap in at the far post.
Moments before the break Derby were unfortunate to find themselves down again when Tom Lawrence appeared to be fouled down the right flank by Zappacosta although the referee failed to blow the whistle. Meanwhile, Fabregas was played through in a central position and fired in to give Chelsea an advantage at the break.
The goals were harder to come by in the second-half as both keepers were called into action. Carson made an instinctive save from close range to deny Gary Cahill at the near post as latched on to a corner.
Soon after, Huddlestone and Marriott looked to link up again as the midfielder lobbed a great ball forward to Marriott who beat Cahill and Zappacosta and struck perfectly. Caballero pushed the ball up and just over the crossbar.
The Rams kept pushing for the equaliser when Mount worked his magic outside the area to create space before unleashing his shot that took a deflection to take it wide.
With ten minutes to play, Carson made a superb save to deny Alvaro Morata’s powerful header on the end of Willian’s corner.
The Rams twice came agonisingly close in the final minutes to finding the equaliser. Keogh was played through in the box and shrugged off Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta but his low effort was batted away by Caballero. Derby gain possession back right away and it was then Mount’s shot the was kept out.
David Nugent then hit the post in the final minute as Derby looked to take over the game, however time ran out on the game and the Rams’ Carabao cup run
Chelsea: Caballero; Zappacosta (Azpilicueta, 78), Cahill, Christensen (Luiz, 66), Emerson; Kanta, Fabregas, Kovacic; Willian, Morata, Loftus-Cheek (Pedro, 69)
Unused Subs: Bulka, Drinkwater, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi,
Derby County: Carson; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Malone (Forsyth, 81); Mount, Huddleston, Wilson (Nugent, 81); Waghorn (Bennett, 62), Marriott, Lawrence
Unused Subs: Roos, Johnson, Holmes, Davies
The Rams return to Sky Bet Championship action for back-to-back games at Pride Park Stadium ahead of the next international break. On Saturday Derby face Birmingham City before hosting Aston Villa the following weekend.