LONDON: Chelsea reached the League Cup final with a 6-1 thrashing of Middlesbrough in its semifinal second leg on Tuesday, providing coach Mauricio Pochettino a measure of relief after a poor first half to the season.
The big-spending Londoners, who lie a lowly ninth in the Premier League, had squandered a hatful of chances in the first leg away two weeks ago, which Middlesbrough won 1-0.
But Tuesday’s game underlined the gulf in quality between the Premier League side and their second-tier visitors with the tie finishing 6-2 on aggregate.
Middlesbrough, missing key players through injury, could not repeat their defensive heroics of the first leg and, after conceding an own-goal through captain Jonny Howson in the 15th minute, were already 4-0 down by halftime.
Cole Palmer put away two for Chelsea, in the 42nd and 77th minutes, as the Blues ran rings around their opponents with a sharp, flowing, passing game.
Pochettino praised Palmer’s intelligence on the pitch. The forward has now scored 10 goals in his first season with Chelsea.
Enzo Fernandez, Axel Disasi and Noni Madueke also got on the scoresheet, while Morgan Rogers scored a consolation goal for Boro in the 88th minute.
Chelsea, which has won the trophy five times, most recently in 2015, will meet either Liverpool or Fulham, which play on Wednesday, in the Wembley final on February 25. The Blues last reached the final two years ago, losing to Liverpool on penalties. Agencies