Chelsea defender scores winner against Liverpool in semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge
London: Branislav Ivanovic's extra-time header sent Chelsea into the League Cup final at Liverpool's expense as the west London club edged a breathless semi-final second leg 1-0 on Tuesday night.
Up & away: Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic (centre) rises to head in the winning goal against Liverpool during the FA Cup first semi-final's second leg encounter at Stamford Bridge in London on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
The Serbian's goal gave Jose Mourinho's side a 2-1 aggregate win, taking them into a March 1 final against either Tottenham Hotspur or Sheffield United and cutting off one of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard's paths to a golden send-off before his departure for the LA Galaxy.
Three titles in sight
The 34-year-old now has only the FA Cup and Europa League to aim for, while Chelsea remain on course for three trophies after bouncing back from their humiliating 4-2 loss to third-tier Bradford City in the FA Cup.
Tuesday's gruelling encounter at an electrified Stamford Bridge will have taken its toll on Mourinho's squad, however, ahead of Saturday's crucial home game with title rivals Manchester City in the Premier League, with Cesc Fabregas notably forced off by injury.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa is also at risk of respective punishment after twice appearing to stamp on Liverpool players — Emre Can in the first half and Martin Skrtel, with whom he fought a running battle, in the second.
Last week's first leg was also a spiky affair and a number of contentious incidents made referee Michael Oliver the centre of attention during a break-neck first half in west London.
Chelsea had two penalty appeals turned down. The first one was when a shot from Willian struck Lucas Leiva on the hand, and then when Skrtel appeared to catch Diego Costa with his foot as the Spanish striker looked to wriggle down the byline.
After a goalless regulation time, Ivanovic headed in Willian's right-wing free-kick in the 94th minute.
Meanwhile, Mourinho was fined £25,000 over comments he made after his side's 1-1 draw at Southampton last month, the Football Association said yesterday. Mourinho claimed there was a media-driven "campaign" against his team following diving allegations and said a yellow card shown to Cesc Fabregas for simulation during the game was a "scandal."