The visitors failed to take the initiative against the 10-man Blues as an enthralling derby stalemate at Stamford Bridge was decided by an unfortunate Bryan Ruiz penalty miss.Chelsea unconvincingly came out on top of the Carling Cup third round SW6 derby against Fulham, stuttering to victory via a stalemate and a 4-3 penalty shoot-out.
It was an engaging 0-0 draw, though Fulham failed to capitalize on its host losing defender Alex half-way through the second half, and as the game entered a penalty shoot-out, it was the Cottagers' record signing Bryan Ruiz who missed the decisive spot-kick.
After an incident-shy opening, it took a denied penalty claim following Florent Malouda's tangle with Zdenek Grygera to get the host going, with Salomon Kalou missing a golden opportunity to put his side ahead as glanced a free header wide of the post.
From there, a rampant Lukaku barged his way into the Fulham box and sent his effort straight at Mark Schwarzer, with Daniel Sturridge driving narrowly wide after cutting in from the right flank moments later.
The Blues were almost made to rue those missed chances as Fulham began to look more menacing, though Pajtim Kasami wastefully lashed into the side netting after a delightfully scooped Ruiz pass.
Sturridge then slid in to convert Kalou’s goal-bound effort and saw the score ruled out for offside, with that being the last of the action for the young striker as he hobbled off to be replaced by Frank Lampard five or so minutes before the referee called for the interval.
Young Guns | Romelu Lukaku chases down Fulham's Matthew Briggs
The game burst into life as soon as the teams came back out for the second half. Lampard took little time to provide the incision that was absent for Chelsea, slotting in Kalou who bore down on goal only to rifle his shot in the side-netting.
In a matter of seconds, Fulham counter-attacked and won themselves a penalty after a delightful Ruiz backheel released Frei who was hacked down by Alex. The Brazilan received a red card for his misdemeanor, though Chelsea was not made to pay the full price, as Kasami slammed his penalty against the bar.The game descended into end to end chaos, with John Terry having a header from a corner clawed off the line before the hosts were nearly hit on the counter as Frei surged through a static defense but sent his effort wide. As the game entered its closing stages, Lukaku and Luiz both went close though could have done better with efforts from inside the box, but the game ended as a stalemate.
The deadlock couldn't be breached and the game culminated in a penalty shoot-out.
Lampard started proceedings but had his penalty saved, before Bobby Zamora, Luiz, Sidwell and Terry all netted. Dembele had his tame effort palmed away as Kalou and Chris Baird effectively forced sudden death. From there Malouda tucked his cool spot-kick into the top corner as Ruiz proved the fall-guy, his slammed effort bouncing off the under side of the bar, allowing a lucky Chelsea to progress to the fourth round of the Carling Cup.