With a dominant first half performance, Chelsea destroyed Middlesbrough to win 6-2 overall and guarantee a spot in the Carabao Cup final against either Liverpool or Fulham.

After surprising the Blues with a 10 victory at Riverside Stadium in the first leg, Boro had real hopes of being the first EFL team to defeat a Premier League team in the semi-finals since Bradford eliminated Aston Villa eleven years prior. However, goals from Cole Palmer, Axel Disasi, Enzo Fernandez, and Jonny Howson, as well as an own goal, put an end to those aspirations for Chelsea before the half. The lineups of the teams | Match statistics Use NOW to stream Sky Sports | Purchase Sky Sports Install the Sky Sports mobile app. Palmer and Noni Madueke punished Michael Carrick’s team for mistakes in the second half, which resulted in the last two of those four goals. Boro had been caught playing out of the back.

The latter two of those four goals came after Boro were caught playing out from the back and that pattern continued in the second half, with errors by Michael Carrick’s team punished by Palmer and Noni Madueke.

Morgan Rogers added a late consolation goal for Boro but, amid an inconsistent campaign, Chelsea have now won five of their last six matches, while their supporters can look forward to a trip to Wembley on February 25 as Mauricio Pochettino looks to win silverware in his first season at the club.

However, goals from Cole Palmer, Axel Disasi, Enzo Fernandez, and Jonny Howson, as well as an own goal, put an end to those aspirations for Chelsea before the half. The lineups of the teams | Match statisticsHowever, goals from Cole Palmer, Axel Disasi, Enzo Fernandez, and Jonny Howson, as well as an own goal, put an end to those aspirations for Chelsea before the half. With Chelsea and Pochettino in the middle of the Premier League standings and without European football, the domestic cups have become extremely important as they try to show real development in a season of change. Their shocking first-leg loss was mostly due to ineffectiveness in front of goal, but Chelsea more than made up for it at Stamford Bridge as Boro’s miserable record in west London continued—they have now lost 22 games there.

The first ten minutes gave hope that Boro could break the extended losing streak; Chelsea’s younger players appeared uneasy, and Pochettino repeatedly scolded Levi Colwill and Mykhailo Mudryk in particular. Nevertheless, the captain set up Chelsea’s opening goal by threading a cross through to Raheem Sterling, who sadly diverted his cutback into the net, after Ben Chilwell—making his first start since September due to injury—narrowly missed. After a deft Sterling backheel released Disasi in the area, Fernandez swiped in a loose ball. Rogers missed Boro’s lone opportunity of the first half, shooting at Djordje Petrovic. A few minutes later, Disasi was tearing forward once more, launching an assault by seizing Matt Clarke’s pass.

“Much was made of Pochettino’s failure to win a trophy during an otherwise impressive five years in charge of Tottenham. Three trophies in 18 months at Paris Saint-Germain quietened that talk but the pressure remains for him to break that duck in England.

“Chelsea may no longer be the reliable title-winning outfit of much of the past two decades but Pochettino has often spoken of the need to compete for and win trophies during his time in west London.

“With the final coming in February, the Carabao Cup is the first opportunity for Pochettino and his side to meet those expectations. Jose Mourinho often made a point of prioritising the competition during his first seasons in charge of Premier League sides due to the momentum that lifting a trophy in mid-season can provide.

“Pochettino has taken the same approach and the fact Chelsea have reached the final should be applauded. But tougher tests still await, with rivals Fulham or title-chasing Liverpool looming at Wembley.

“But for now, Pochettino can point to the progress his side are undeniably making under his watch.”

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