MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 0 FULHAM 0 (4-3 ON PENS)
Chelsea win only our second penalty shoot-out in nine attempts to triumph in this local derby on a draining night in which we played 73 minutes of football with only 10 men. That was because Alex was sent off shortly after half-time, Fulham then missing an open-play spot-kick chance.
The game became very open after that but neither side could find the quality needed in front of goal although Ross Turnbull, a substitute for injured Petr Cech excelled with one save. His good night's work didn't end there as he saved in the shoot-out too. Fulham's Bryan Ruiz struck woodwork too so Chelsea went through. Frank Lampard was the Chelsea player who didn't convert but no ultimate damage was done.
Turnbull might have expected to start this game but Cech was given the nod before he was forced off at the break, and the replacement made up for Carling Cup disappointment against Newcastle last season with a blinding point-blank range save midway through the second half as Fulham applied pressure.
There were first starts for Ryan Bertrand, Oriol Romeu and Romelu Lukaku, and first starts of the season for Paulo Ferreira and Josh McEachran. Petr Cech, who was again captain, and Daniel Sturridge were the only two who had started at Old Trafford in the previous game. Florent Malouda started the game in midfield. There was plenty of experience ready on the bench, but Didier Drogba was prevented from returning to action due to the way events played out.
Fulham made eight changes from their weekend draw against Man City, including a completely different midfield and attack.
As was to be expected with unfamiliar line-ups put out by both sides, the game took time to settle. Sturridge found the sidenetting within the first five minutes, and David Luiz was determined to take the game to Fulham whenever he could, but it was an untidy opening.
Sturridge continued on as the game's brightest performer and his ball looked to have played Malouda in with a clear shoot at the target but it was hard to control, allowing Stephen Kelly was to recover back and take the ball away before Malouda could shoot.
Malouda turned supplier and found Kalou unmarked with a carefully curled cross but the Ivorian glanced his header wide when Schwarzer should have been tested.
On 20 minutes came the first moment that really got the good-sized crowd going. Cech confidently claimed a corner and released McEachran for a silky sidestep inside his marker. The England Under 21 international's quick ball forward had made Lukaku second favourite to reach it but the big Belgian left Briggs on the ground and raced away to thump a shot that Schwarzer saved. It was a sign of genuine powerplay from the new striker in blue. Kalou had a shot in the aftermath but again went wide.
A better chance to Fulham though, the first time they stretched Chelsea at the back, when a well-judged pass from their own half sent Orlando Sa through to face Cech. That of course is no formality and the Chelsea Player of the Year stood tall and almost tackled the Fulham number 9, so close was he when he blocked the shot.
Sturridge smashed an effort from inside the area wide to his visible annoyance but Fulham were now spending as much time in our half as we in theirs as the 30-minute mark passed.
We reacted well to the challenge and with Lukaku acting as fulcrum, played deep in their half in the lead up to the break. Bertrand hit the sidenetting with a speculative shot before the big talking point of the half.
McEachran exchanged passes with Malouda inside the area and slotted the ball beyond Schwarzer. It looked goalbound but with Kelly also chasing it, Sturridge poked it into the net, only to look with dismay as the offside flag went off.
The evening turned even worse than that for Sturridge when a knock to his lower leg as Kelly challenged him meant he had to be replaced by Lampard before the interval, with Malouda moving into the attack.
There was another player who required treatment too before half-time - Petr Cech after taking a knock to the head as he challenged Sa for a dropping ball.
Cech didn't come out for the second half so Turnbull took over between the posts and had to face a penalty within two minutes of coming on.
Before then though Kalou joined the list of Chelsea players to put a shot into the sidenetting. He was in good position too, Lampard playing a pass between the Fulham central defence and Briggs after McEachran had nicked possession.
The Fulham penalty looked a close call by referee Chris Foy, Alex sliding a leg past Frei and playing the ball as the midfielder went over his leg. An already angry Brazilian was sent-off. In front of the half-filled Fulham end, Kasami fired his spot kick up onto the bar.
McEachran and Drogba were other casualties of the red card, the former taken off to allow Terry to restore a two-man central defence and the latter now denied minutes on the pitch as Chelsea ran out of substitutes.
It was hard for a period to see where the goal was going to come from at either end. Lukaku stormed half the length of the pitch on a couple of occasions but to no avail and a mistake by Romeu threatened to cost Chelsea dear but the Spaniard recovered well and cleared up his mess himself.
With 70 minutes gone Malouda jumped on a loose ball in the area but shot at the keeper.
Chelsea's own man with the gloves, Turnbull then became the centre of attention for a three-minute spell, pulling off one truly marvellous save.
Moments earlier he had saved low down from substitute Dembele but when the sprightly Frei from the other side of the pitch pulled the ball back from the goal-line, and Kasami sent it goalwards from four yards out, somehow our substitute stopper reacted to push it over the bar. Think Petr Cech from Portsmouth's Piquionne in the 2010 FA Cup Final.
From the corner Turnbull did less well, palming down the ball loosely but Baird shot wide.
Back and forth the game swung as legs tired. Bertrand charged onto a return pass from Malouda but Schwarzer saved, as did the Fulham keeper from close to his line when Lukaku headed down a ball in a crowd area.
With two minutes of the 90 remaining, David Luiz put Chelsea on the attack but when he the ball came back to his feet, his shot was half-hit and was comfortable for Schwarzer. David Luiz returned to his half, tugging at his lengthy locks in frustration.
Chelsea's chances looked diminished almost immediately when cramp struck the Lukaku calf after he had lost out in a chase with Schwarzer. The striker played on but was clearly fatigued on his first full game-plus as a Chelsea central striker with all the running that involves.
He was not the only one with tired legs and it took 14 minutes of football before a half-chance - Kalou switching play to Malouda but the sidenetting took another battering.
So the second period kicked off with the game still goalless. Chelsea felt hard done by when Senderos appeared to block off the run of Lukaku as he looked to make something of great approach play by Malouda. The Swiss defender later survived a handball appeal when he fell on the ball in the area.
With eight minutes to go, Romeu who had been busy on his full debut, tried to win it from distance and it was a worthy shot that cleared the bar.
Zamora shot further over from the edge of the Chelsea area but Steve Sidwell, on as a substitute, did put hearts in mouths just three minutes from the end when he was allowed to volley a Kelly cross from just 10 yards out. It was only inches away from a late decider.
The kicks were taken in front of the Matthew Harding End with Chelsea going first, but Lampard failed to get us off to the start we wanted when Schwarzer saved to his right.
Zamora sent Turnbull the wrong way before David Luiz got Chelsea off the mark. Turnbull guessed correctly next time but Sidwell still scored to make it 2-1 Fulham.
Then came a big moment as Terry took his first since Moscow and scored with a short run up. Dembele didn't though, as Turnbull became the hero of the night with a save.
Kalou expertly dispatched his into the top corner and Chelsea were ahead for the first time - 3-2. Baird levelled it up however to keep the tension high so it was Malouda with our last, thumped home with a shuffle.
So Ruiz had to score. And for the second time on the night a Fulham penalty crashed onto the crossbar but this time in bounced down onto the line. No-one for a moment was sure if it was a goal or not, expect the linesman who decided no. Chelsea were into the next round of the Carling Cup, the draw to be made on Saturday.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech (c) (Turnbull h-t); Ferreira, Alex, David Luiz, Bertrand; McEachran (Terry 51), Romeu, Malouda; Sturridge (Lampard 43), Lukaku, Kalou.
Unused subs Bosingwa, Mikel, Mata, Drogba.
Sent off Alex 47
Booked Lampard 120.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer (c); Kelly, Grygera, Senderos, Briggs; Kasami (Zamora 77), Gecov (Sidwell 90+1), Baird, Frei; Ruiz, Sa (Dembélé 59).
Unused subs Etheridge, J A Riise, Kacaniklic, Halliche.
Booked Frei 98
Referee Chris Foy.
See the full game on Chelsea TV from midnight.