VIALLI, CHAMPAGNE & A ROCKET FROM ROBBIE: REWIND TO THE LEAGUE CUP SEMI FINAL SECOND LEG 1997/98

As we eagerly await the Second Leg of our League Cup Semi Final against Spurs I felt it was a perfect time to take a trip down memory lane and revisit February 18th 1998.

Picture via gettyimages.com

This time it was Arsenal who would visit Stamford Bridge in a League Cup Semi Final Second Leg. Having lost at Highbury in the first leg 2-1 this game was set up to be a classic. Thanks has to go to Mark Hughes for getting that all important late away goal. I was at Highbury that night and to be honest we were fortunate to come away with just a 2-1 deficit.

Ruud Gullit was sacked a few days before the second leg after a fall out with then chairman Ken Bates. Gianluca Vialli was announced as Ruud’s successor as player manager shortly after and it was down to him to try and turn this cup tie around.

Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal (4-3 on agg)

Chelsea Goals: Hughes (10 mins), Di Matteo (51 mins), Petrescu (53 mins)

Arsenal Goals: Bergkamp (82 mins, pen)

Sent Off: Vieira (48 mins)

Chelsea Team: De Goey, Clarke, Leboeuf, Duberry, Le Saux, Petrescu, Wise (c), Di Matteo, Hughes, Zola, Vialli (Newton 80mins)

Attendance: 34,330

Picture via mirror.co.uk

The build up to the game was intense and it was later reported that Gianluca toasted the occasion with pre match champagne! Mark Hughes once again settled our nerves with a clever shot on the turn on ten minutes which levelled the tie on aggregate.

Patrick Vieira was sent off for Arsenal just after half time and this was the turning point of the match. Chelsea then went on to score two goals in two minutes. An absolute rocket from Roberto Di Matteo that flew into the top corner and an impressive solo effort from Dan Petrescu put us very much in control of the tie.

I remember the night well, I was sat in the Matthew Harding lower stand and the Bridge was absolutely rocking. Dennis Bergkamp scored a penalty to make the score 3-1 with eight minutes remaining.

Picture via gettyimages.com

It was a slightly nervy ending but we eventually won the game 3-1 (4-3 on agg). The night belonged to Gianluca Vialli and it was Chelsea that would be going back to Wembley. Chelsea beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in the final. Great memories.

Written By Chris Wright

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