Chelsea vs Oxford ends with record 34 penalty shootout
Blues triumph in history-making EFL Trophy clash – but the Us go through to next round of tournament
Chelsea and Oxford United were involved in the longest penalty shootout in English football history last night, taking 34 spot kicks to find a winner in their EFL Trophy clash.
It was the Chelsea Under-21s, taking part in the competition as part of an experiment, who prevailed 13-12, but it is The Us who progress to the next round of the tournament as they finished second in the group while the Blues came bottom.
Each side was awarded a point when the game ended 1-1, but a shootout was required to establish a winner. While Chelsea's ultimate victory earned them a bonus point, it was not enough to send them through, rendering the exercise redundant.
"The EFL Trophy has been so messed about by the Football League's preposterous decision to invite 16 Premier League and Championship teams to field academy sides in the group stages, it seems inevitable that something odd would happen in this farcical year for the competition," says the Daily Telegraph. "And so it transpired at Stamford Bridge."
The penalty drama lasted two kicks longer than the previous record of 32, set by Scunthorpe and Worcester in the FA Cup in 2014 and matched by Derby County and Carlisle United in the EFL Cup this season. "Those games finished with a higher score, 14-13," reports ESPN.
On a positive note, Kurt Zouma, continuing his comeback from injury, played the full 90 minutes for Chelsea and Marco van Ginkel also played for the Blues.
But the hero of the hour was their 19-year-old goalkeeper Bradley Collins, says the Daily Mirror: "He took his side's fifth penalty in the shootout and saw his effort saved, but when it came round to him again, he fired home emphatically before saving Oxford's next kick to win the game."
The game attracted a crowd of 5,400 to Stamford Bridge, far in excess of many other of Tuesday night's fixtures. Out of the 16 games played, only two - those at Chelsea and Luton - attracted more than 1,500 fans, says ESPN.
The Mirror adds that many fans are boycotting the competition, which was formerly sponsored by Johnstone's Paint and is now known as the Checkatrade Trophy.
"Just 308 people were at the Riverside Stadium to watch Middlesbrough Under-23's 3-0 loss to Shrewsbury. Portsmouth's attendance of 1,200 is the lowest post-war attendance at Fratton Park for a competitive fixture... [and] West Ham's youngsters were victorious on spot-kicks, winning at Northampton in front of a crowd of just 762 - the Cobblers' lowest-ever competitive attendance," the paper says.