Leicester City 2 Chelsea 4: Cesc Fabregas strikes back
Fabregas silences his critics with two goals in extra time to sink ten-man Leicester
Two extra-time goals from Cesc Fabregas saw Chelsea home against Leicester in an action-packed EFL Cup third-round tie.
Having scored twice in three minutes, the Spanish midfielder couldn't resist a dig at his detractors. "Hopefully this will shut up a few journalists who are talking rubbish all the time and focus on what is important — Chelsea winning," he said. "I know what I can do and it's a lot for this team."
Since the start of the season rumours have been circulating that Fabregas could be sold to AC Milan in the New Year after failing to impress Antonio Conte. But the new Chelsea boss liked what he saw of Fabregas last night as his side came from behind to beat the Foxes.
Shinji Okazaki put the hosts a goal up on 17 minutes with a header and the Japanese striker then doubled Leicester's advantage with a sharp shot on 34 minutes. Leicester appeared to be cruising towards a 2-0 half-time lead, but seconds before the break Gary Cahill pulled one back for the visitors when he headed home Fabregas' corner.
Cesar Azpilicueta then levelled for Chelsea four minutes after the restart with a rasping 20-yard volley and though there were no further goals in the 90 minutes of normal time there was still drama to come. The introduction of Diego Costa in the second-half brought a greater edge to Chelsea's attack and a minute before the end he was on the receiving end of a forearm challenge from Marcin Wasilewski, which earned him his second yellow card of the night.
Chelsea seized on their numerical advantage in extra-time as Fabregas, who has played only 32 minutes of Premier League football this season, went to work. First he ran onto a sweet back heel from Eden Hazard to send the ball past Ron-Robert Zieler in the Leicester goal. Less than three minutes later, he rifled the ball into the roof of the net to kill off the tie.
"I am pleased for Cesc because he played a good game, he showed me great commitment in the training sessions," said Conte. "I am satisfied when I see this behaviour. This is the right way and I want my players to create good competition and, game by game, give me the opportunity to choose the best line-up."
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri was left to rue the indiscipline of Wasilewski, which he described as one of two decisive moments in the tie.
"I think the first key in the game was when we conceded the goal on the last corner [in the first half]," he said. "We lost two dangerous men, David Luiz and Cahill, and at that point something changed.
"I think the second key was when Was was sent off – Wasilewski is a very aggressive man, it's his strength. But it's important sometimes if he maintains calm and stays cold on some occasions."