For all the bright young things and their expensive elders, this was a tie won by a 36-year-old back-up goalkeeper without a hair on his head and barely a game to his name. What a decision it was to free Willy.
When Wayne Rooney had a volley, it was charged down. When Aaron Lennon went through, he was stopped. Likewise Phil Jagielka and Kevin Mirallas.
One by one, they took aim at Chelsea’s goal in the second half and in succession they hit the great wall of Willy Caballero. When the Argentine’s goal was finally breached, it was merely a consolation from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Willy Caballero of Chelsea celebrates after seeing his side seal victory in their Carabao Cup fourth round tie against Everton
Chelsea’s German defender Antonio Rudiger celebrates after scoring the first goal in the Carabao Cup fourth round match
Rudiger is congratulated by his Chelsea team-mates after his goal gave them a 1-0 lead over Everton in the 26th minute
Rudiger met the looped cross of Charly Musonda with his head and guided it past Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford
Willian fires off a shot to score Chelsea’s second goal of the game with just injury time left to play at Stamford Bridge
The Brazilian celebrates his goal, which would prove to be the winner after Everton’s late consolation at Stamford Bridge
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Chelsea (3-4-3): Caballero 7.5; Rudiger 7, Christensen 6, Cahill 6; Zappacosta 6.5, Drinkwater 6.5 (Fabregas 62 6), Ampadu 6, Kenedy 6; Willian 7, Batshuayi 6 (Morata 84), Musonda 6.5 (Pedro 70 6).
Subs not used: Eduardo, Clarke-Salter, Sterling, Scott.
Manager: Antonio Conte 6.5
Everton (4-3-3): Pickford 6; Kenny 6, Williams 6, Jagielka 6, Baines 6; Davies 6, Baningime 6.5, McCarthy 6 (Calvert-Lewin 64 7); Lennon 6.5 (Lookman 73 6.5), Rooney 6 (Niasse 81), Mirallas 6.
Subs not used: Robles, Keane, Sigurdsson, Holgate.
Manager (caretaker): David Unsworth 5.5
Booked: Williams, Davies, McCarthy, Jagielka
Referee: Neil Swarbrick 6
Ratings by Sam Cunningham
Caballero’s performance truly was one of boredom and brilliance — and in that order, for in the first half he had nothing to do except watch the same turgid game as everyone else, save for Antonio Rudiger’s goal on 26 minutes. But then how it all changed. Everton, managerless and apparently clueless under their caretaker, David Unsworth, suddenly smelled the salts.
They forced chance after chance, working their way through Chelsea’s second string. But they left with nothing, beaten by a man signed on a free transfer in the summer.
For Antonio Conte, it is clear that this is not a competition he will prioritise. Not yet anyway. But against the backdrop of his uneasy relationship at Chelsea, where he is under significant pressure for his job, this win was important.
In that context, it was perhaps a surprise to see the team he picked. Conte had indicated he would be going with a strong side, but ultimately the Italian kept only two players from the team that beat Watford at the weekend, with Rudiger and Gary Cahill retained in defence and Danny Drinkwater given his debut.
Finally. At long last. He lives. And maybe, just maybe, Chelsea can now breathe again themselves, because Drinkwater’s return from injury is desperately well-timed.
The midfield has been down on quality and personnel since N’Golo Kante was injured on international duty, and while Drinkwater will not fully compensate for the loss of Conte’s most important player, he ought to remove some of the vulnerabilities that have appeared in the past few weeks.
This was not his finest performance, with a few stray long balls and a few tired runs, but he also showed he has the touches and positional comfort of a player who helped Leicester do something incredible not so long ago.
In this tie, he was joined in the middle by 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu, who was making his first start. Will he make it? He looked solid, and played one particularly incisive first-half pass, but it’s a long-odds lottery for any young player in this Chelsea set-up.
Everton’s Oumar Niasse sees the ball over the line as Dominic Calvert-Lewin gets a goal, but with no time left on the clock
Chelsea goalkeeper Caballero shows plenty of bravery as he comes out to make a save from an Aaron Lennon shot
Callabero comes out and spreads himself to stop Wayne Rooney scoring what would have been an equalising goal for Everton
Everton’s Rooney puts his head in his hands after seeing his effort saved by Willy Caballero in the second half
RARE RUDIGER GOAL
Antonio Rudiger’s last club goal was 535 days ago for Roma.
The German netted in a 3-0 win over Chievo in 2016.
Wednesday’s strike was just his fifth club goal.
A weak side? Not quite when it involved the likes of Willian among £150million of hardware, but also not close to what Conte would dream of using in the league.
As for Unsworth, he had riches of his own to call on, the legacy of a summer that offered so much but has led to pathetically little beyond the sacking of a manager.
The caretaker in Ronald Koeman’s place made his mark with five changes to the side crushed by Arsenal, most notably the inclusion of Lennon, who was making his first start since he was detained under the Mental Health Act earlier in the year.
His pace, as ever, was a threat. In the first half, though, Everton were horribly limited, barely capable of finding Rooney, much less putting him into any kind of position. They finished the half without logging a single shot on goal. At the back, they were even worse.
It was a defensive error that made the difference in the first half. That is probably putting it kindly, for Everton’s marking was shockingly poor when Willian rolled a short corner to Charly Musonda after 26 minutes.
The Argentine goalkeeper makes another fine save as Everton continue their search for an equaliser
Antonio Conte gesticulates on the touchline as his Chelsea players struggle to hold on to their lead in the second half
Chelsea’s Brazilian winger Kenedy displays some spectacular acrobatics in order to clear the ball from Chelsea’s area
Danny Drinkwater made his first apperances for Chelsea following his deadline day move from Leicester City
CARABAO CUP QUARTER-FINALISTS
Arsenal, Bournemouth, Bristol City, Chelsea, Leicester, Man City, Man Utd, West Ham.
The draw willbe streamed live on Twitter at 4pm on Thursday.
Musonda took a touch, saw Rudiger lurking near the back post and in the time it took to whip in a cross no one even got close to the German. He had free space in all directions, so quite calmly headed back across goal and lobbed Jordan Pickford. Well executed, yes, but a gift of sorts as well.
Chelsea almost landed a second before the break when Drinkwater and Michy Batshuayi triggered a counter and Davide Zappacosta drilled into the side netting.
That was your lot for the first half. The second started with more of a bang, and quite literally as Beni Baningime, a 19-year-old debutant of some hype, crashed into Ampadu.
Everton forward Wayne Rooney has a stern word with Chelsea defender Rudiger during the first half at Stamford Bridge
Willian of Chelsea and Everton captain Phil Jagielka show no sign of abating as they both challenge for a loose ball
That collision seemed to jolt Everton rather than Chelsea. Within moments, Rooney had a volley saved by Caballero and then Lennon was also smothered by the keeper. A sign of life. Two good chances and two good saves.
Conte brought on Cesc Fabregas to replace Drinkwater but still the opportunities came for Everton, with Caballero forced into an exceptional save to stop Jagielka. He allowed himself a mini fist pump, before then getting down to keep out an effort from Mirallas. Brilliant stuff.
Ademola Lookman then hit the bar and the onslaught continued but from nowhere, Chelsea were safe, with Willian netting in stoppage time after a one-two with Fabregas.
Only then did Everton find a way through, Calvert-Lewin bundling past Caballero a minute later. It is testament to the old man that the goal was only a consolation.
Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu, 17, also made his full Chelsea debut in midfield as Antonio Conte mixed up his team for the cup tie
David Unsworth shakes hands with Chelsea manager Conte ahead of his first match as caretaker manager of the Toffees