Chelsea 6-1 Middlesbrough (6-2 agg): Player ratings as Blues reach Carabao Cup final in style

  • Chelsea cruise into Carabao Cup final with huge win over Middlesbrough
  • Boro led 1-0 from first leg but well beaten back at Stamford Bridge
  • Blues to face either Liverpool or Fulham at Wembley in late February
Chilwell and Palmer starred in Chelsea's win
Chilwell and Palmer starred in Chelsea's win / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

FROM STAMFORD BRIDGE - Chelsea sealed their place in the Carabao Cup final with a 6-1 victory at home to Middlesbrough on Tuesday, prevailing 6-2 on aggregate.

Mauricio Pochettino's side put in one of their best performances of the 2023/24 season so far to advance to Wembley and completely flatten Boro's hopes of a cup upset.

The Blues will take on either Liverpool or Fulham in the final next month, with the Reds taking a 2-1 lead to Craven Cottage on Wednesday.

How the game unfolded

Though Middlesbrough controlled the opening stages, Chelsea nearly took the lead early on. Thiago Silva's long ball over the top picked out the run of the returning Ben Chilwell, who beat goalkeeper Thomas Glover to the pass but looped his header over the bar.

The Blues broke the deadlock and tied the score on aggregate on 15 minutes. Chilwell's adventurous run infield saw him skip past a couple of Middlesbrough defenders and slip in Raheem Sterling. The winger then squared for Armando Broja to tap home, though the Albanian's first touch was poor and the retreating Jonny Howson appeared to get a telling touch as the ball trickled into an empty net.

Boro nearly scored almost immediately down the other end via a corner, with Morgan Rogers making his way into the box and firing towards the near post, only to be denied by a low save from Djordje Petrovic.

Chelsea's second goal came just before the half-hour mark. Sterling's clever flick found Axel Disasi on the overlap, and though Broja's shot was miscued from the resulting cross, Enzo Fernandez was on hand to slot the the ball home.

A third soon followed as Chelsea took control of the tie. Disasi won the ball back high up the pitch after a sloppy pass from Matt Clarke and darted towards the penalty area, converting from a low Sterling cross.

There was still time for Chelsea to add a fourth before the break, with Hayden Hackney's loose pass to Dan Barlaser pounced upon by Cole Palmer on the edge of the Boro box. The Blues' player of the season so far coolly stroked the ball into the bottom corner.

On the other side of half-time, Levi Colwill went close to grabbing a fifth, lashing a fierce effort narrowly past the post.

Boro nearly shot themselves in the foot when Dael Fry's first touch on the edge of the six-yard box was stolen Sterling, with the defender recovering in time to deny him an open goal.

Chelsea's fifth came courtesy of Palmer, who was on hand to steer in a low cutback from Conor Gallagher after Middlesbrough turned the ball over in their own half.

Substitute Noni Madueke got in on the act with a goal of his own soon after, cutting inside from the right and curling one beyond Glover.

Middlesbrough had the ball in the net courtesy of Matt Crooks, but he was cruelly judged to have been offside when meeting Hackney's ball over the top.

In the dying embers, Rogers grabbed a legitimate goal to give the travelling fans something to celebrate, drifting inside and picking out the far corner.

But ultimately the night belonged to Chelsea and Madness' One Step Beyond sounded loudly around Stamford Bridge after three minutes of stoppage time.

Chelsea player ratings (4-2-3-1)

Cole Palmer
'Cold' Palmer was back at it / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

GK: Djordje Petrovic - 6/10 - Had little to do but made the requisite saves whenever called into action.

RB: Axel Disasi - 8/10 - By far his most impressive display for Chelsea and out of position at right-back. Stormed his way up the pitch to Boro's confusion and fear.

CB: Thiago Silva - 7/10 - Led by example from the back, even if his lack of pace was shown on rare occasions.

CB: Levi Colwill - 7/10 - Caught some heat from Pochettino for his initial reluctance to play in Chilwell and Mudryk down the left, though defended solidly and eventually found confidence in his passing.

LB: Ben Chilwell - 9/10 - It's hard to believe Chelsea's vice-captain hasn't played since September. Took the game by the scruff of the neck when the hosts were flat early on.

CM: Moises Caicedo - 6/10 - Did his standard job of breaking up play well in a combatitive midfield battle.

CM: Enzo Fernandez - 8/10 - Ventured high up alongside Palmer during Chelsea's first-half blitzing of Boro. Another goal for his growing collection, finding the net for the fifth time this season.

RM: Raheem Sterling - 8/10 - Had real joy running rings around a static Middlesbrough backline, combining well with the surprisingly dangerous Disasi.

AM: Cole Palmer - 9/10 - Found his groove midway through the first half and was motivated to put on a show for the jubilant home supporters.

LM: Mykhailo Mudryk - 4/10 - Completely ineffective in the first half, failing to use his pace and frustrating Pochettino with his decision making. Hooked at the break.

CF: Armando Broja - 5/10 - Chelsea's opening two goals came from Broja's inability to properly control or strike a ball. Sure, it helped their cause, but it won't have done his chances much good in the long term.


SUB: Noni Madueke (46' for Mudryk) - 8/10

SUB: Alfie Gilchrist (65' for Chilwell) - 6/10

SUB: Conor Gallagher (65' for Broja) - 7/10

SUB: Carney Chukwuemeka (72' for Caicedo) - 6/10

SUB: Leo Castledine (85' for Sterling) - N/A

Subs not used: Lucas Bergstrom (GK), Ted Curd (GK), Benoit Badiashile, Deivid Washington


Mauricio Pochettino - 9/10 - This was Chelsea at their very best - aggressive, relentless and explosive.

Middlesbrough player ratings (4-2-3-1)

Ben Chilwell, Jonathan Howson
A tough evening for Middlesbrough / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

GK: Tom Glover - 3/10 - Hard to blame him for any of the goals but didn't inspire confidence with his early flap at Chilwell.

RB: Rav van den Berg - 5/10 - Refused to let Mudryk get the better of him, with the Ukrainian withdrawn at the break. Made some super last-ditch challenges.

CB: Dael Fry - 3/10 - His ultra-deep positioning led to Chelsea's opener that swung the momentum of the tie back in their favour.

CB: Matt Clarke - 2/10 - Nervous on the ball and at fault for the third goal of the evening, passing total control over to Chelsea.

LB: Lukas Engel - 3/10 - Had a long evening trying to dampen all of Sterling, Madueke and Disasi.

CM: Jonny Howson - 4/10 - Dropped into defence to form a back five at times, but it seldom mattered. Unfortunate scorer of an own goal.

CM: Dan Barlaser - 3/10 - Showed brief signs of composure, but equally panicked when under pressure.

RM: Marcus Forss - 4/10 - Worked hard down the right and moved centrally to partner Rogers but to little avail and came off at half-time.

AM: Matt Crooks - 5/10 - Broke beyond Rogers and dropped into midfield, though couldn't get much of a foothold.

LM: Hayden Hackney - 4/10 - Boro's brightest spark early on was swiftly dampened.

CF: Morgan Rogers - 6/10 - A quick and direct outlet that is understandably wanted by Aston Villa. Boro couldn't really find him after going behind until very late on.


SUB: Anfernee Dijksteel (46' for Forss) - 4/10

SUB: Lewis O'Brien (70' for Howson) - 4/10

SUB: Alex Gilbert (88' for Crooks) - N/A

Subs not used: Jamie Jones (GK), Paddy McNair, Law McCabe, AJ Bridge, Bryant Bilongo, Josh Coburn


Michael Carrick - 4/10 - Middlesbrough showed real signs of causing an upset in the opening exchanges but they completely collapsed after conceding.

Player of the match - Cole Palmer (Chelsea)