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Chelsea Suffer First-Leg Defeat In Carabao Cup

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND – JANUARY 09: Cole Palmer of Chelsea reacts during the Carabao Cup Semi Final First Leg match between Middlesbrough and Chelsea at Riverside Stadium on January 09, 2024 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Chelsea suffered a 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday night.

Carabao Cup

Result: Middlesbrough 1-0 Chelsea

Date: 09 January 2024

Venue: Riverside Stadium

Blues coach Mauricio Pochettino surprisingly started without a recognised striker as Armando Broja was only named on the bench while Christopher Nkunu missed out through injury.

The opening exchanges proved to be a cagey affair despite the Premier League side shading the possession statistics in the opening 20 minutes.

Chelsea were nearly gifted the opening goal after 30 minutes when Palmer intercepted a poor pass from Howson to go clear on goal, but the midfielder sent his low strike just wide of the upright.

The visitors were made to rue that miss as Boro broke the deadlock eight minutes later when Isaiah Jones managed to carve out some space down the right before picking out Hayden Hackney, who calmly slotted past Dorde Petrovic.

Pochettino’s charges came out firing in the second half, with Conor Gallagher going close to levelling matters from close range but the captain sent his strike wide of the mark.

With the Blues struggling to break down the Boro defence, Pochettino finally introduced a striker as Broja replaced Enzo Fernandez while Mikhail Mudryk came on for Noni Madueke.

Even with the introduction of fresh attackers, Chelsea struggled to fashion a clear chance at goal, which was mostly down to their poor decision-making in the final third.

Michael Carrick’s charges were able to see out the closing stages of the second half to secure a first-leg win and the clean sheet.

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