On Saturday, Chelsea FC suffered an FA Cup fourth-round scare when they came from behind and needed extra time and a penalty saves to defeat League One Plymouth Argyle FC by 2-1 with goals from Spaniards Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso.
Plymouth surprised the Premier League side when defender Macaulay Gillesphey nodded the ball home from a free-kick by former Chelsea player, Jordan Houghton in the eighth minute, encouraging wild celebration and showering green balloons from the travelling fans.
The Chelsea coach, Thomas Tuchel missed the game as he had tested positive for COVID-19. It wasn’t clear whether he would be free to travel next week to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup.
Tuchel tests positive for Covid-19. ⤵️
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 5, 2022
His assembles squad seemed rusty and heavy-footed after a fortnight’s break and however, they had more than 40 shots, their performance was well below their best.
Striker Romelu Lukaku couldn’t take command upfront and rarely seemed like scoring.
In the first half, Chelsea had hit the woodwork three times, twice through Mateo Kovacic and again through Callum Hudson-Odoi but Plymouth’s strong defence held the European Champions at bay until the 41st minute when quality told.
Captain Azpilicueta scores with a neat backheel from a low Mason Mount cross.
Plymouth felt the waves of Chelsea attacking in the second half and the extra time and last-ditch defending also inspired goalkeeping from Mike Cooper kept the hosts out until the 16th minute of extra time. Alonso had broken the deadlock when he got on the end of a pass from Kai Havertz and sweeps the ball in.
Having five minutes to go, Plymouth gains a penalty when Malang Sarr brought down Ryan Hardie in the box. But Plymouth joy was short when Spain’s Kepa Arrizabalaga dove low to his left to save Hardie’s shot.