Branislav Ivanovic’s extra-time winner sent Chelsea into the Capital One Cup final at Wembley after a thrilling semi-final second leg against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
After a goalless 90 minutes, Branislav Ivanovic scored the decisive goal in the first period of extra-time, powering a Willian free-kick past Simon Mignolet to set up a final date at Wembley on 1 March against either Tottenham Hotspur or Sheffield United.
It was the visitors who had the better of the chances during the opening 45 minutes, with Thibaut Courtois making two excellent saves.
After the break, the Blues sprung into life as an attacking unit and looked the side more likely to find a breakthrough, with both Diego Costa and the marvellous Eden Hazard going close.
Ivanovic’s goal, however, proved the difference on the night, and Mourinho was understandably delighted to see his side progress.
“My view is that it was a big semi-final, two big games, this one was really big, with both teams at their limits and the result on the edge,’ said the Portuguese. “The result speaks for itself, 1-1 there, 0-0 here, extra time and one goal to decide.
“I always say to the players that during a game normally a difficult moment will arrive. That moment arrived in the first half and we coped with that. Liverpool were good, Liverpool were better than us, Liverpool were creating and we coped with that.
“We had to be intelligent and wait for the moment to be in control of the game. That came in the second half; we were dominant, created chances and should have scored. Mignolet was amazing. When we scored the goal in extra time the team showed me maturity, control. It’s good for our improvement to play against a very good team and we did that.
“Chelsea supporters were fantastic today, the victory is for them. Last weekend’s defeat was ours, not the supporters.”
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who missed Ivanovic’s decisive goal as he was in a heated debate with fourth official Phil Dowd, showed how much another trip to Wembley meant to him by celebrating wildly with his staff at the final whistle.
It was a result that helped banish Chelsea’s embarrassment of losing 4-2 at home to League One Bradford City in the FA Cup fourth round in their previous outing.
Liverpool will leave Stamford Bridge with regrets, especially after a horrendous headed miss by Jordan Henderson in front of an open goal that could have taken the game to penalties.
There may also be a price to pay for Chelsea as striker Diego Costa may face retrospective punishment for two stamps on Emre Can and Martin Skrtel that were not seen by referee Michael Oliver.
Costa, as usual, was involved in all of the action and should have been awarded a penalty when he was brought down by Skrtel in the first half, while the Spain international’s head-to-head clash with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard earned both players yellow cards.
Chelsea would face Spurs or Sheff Utd at the final on Sunday March 1