Ten-man Chelsea through after shoot-out

Chelsea 0 Fulham 0 (Chelsea won 4-3 on penalties)

Ten-man Chelsea reached the fourth round of the Carling Cup by prevailing in a penalty shoot-out against their west London neighbours.

Blues defender Alex was sent off for a professional foul on 47 minutes after tripping the hugely impressive Kerim Frei. But the resulting penalty by Patjim Kasami hit the bar and Fulham were unable to break the deadlock, even in extra-time.

The Whites were punished when Bryan Ruiz belted their final spot-kick against the bar, sending them out of the competition despite the Costa Rican insisting that his effort had crossed the line after bouncing down off the woodwork.

Chelsea were under pressure after their opening penalty by Frank Lampard was saved by Mark Schwarzer, but substitute keeper Ross Turnbull’s save from Moussa Dembele and Ruiz’s miss proved decisive.

Turnbull was a half-time replacement for Petr Cech, who was withdrawn following a painful collision with Orlando Sa.

An earlier injury to Daniel Sturridge meant that when John Terry came off the bench soon after Alex’s dismissal, Chelsea were not only a man down but had used all three of their substitutes by the 50th minute.

And in extra time they effectively played with nine men as an exhausted Romelu Lukaku could barely operate because of cramp.

Yet they battled on and having been beaten in seven of their last eight shoot-outs – including in the infamous Champions League final against Manchester United – they were winners this time.

The home side dominated much of the opening 45 minutes and appealed in vain for a penalty after Florent Malouda appeared to be tugged back by Stephen Kelly.

But Fulham always looked dangerous on the counter-attack and gained more of a foothold as the first half wore on.

Lampard's penalty was saved by Schwarzer

Both managers made a number of changes for the tie, with Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas handing full debuts to Lukaku, Oriol Romeu and England Under-21 left-back Ryan Bertrand.

There was also an outing for highly-rated Blues prospect Josh McEachran in midfield, where Fulham fielded their own promising teenager in Austrian Frei, who had previously only featured in the Europa League.

The youngsters underlined why they are so well regarded by their respective clubs, showing class on the ball and ability going forward.

McEachran demonstrated that ability eight minutes before the break, when he burst into the box and was denied a first senior goal because his shot, which was heading for the net, was helped in by the offside Sturridge.

Sturridge, desperate to establish himself as a Chelsea first-team regular, then suffered a potentially significant setback when he went off with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.

Fulham, who have not won at Stamford Bridge since October 1979, included Sa and Marcel Gecov, the duo making their debuts following summer moves to Craven Cottage.

And Portuguese attacker Sa squandered his team’s best chance of the first half when he beat the offside trap to race onto Ruiz’s ball over the top, only to shoot woefully wide rather than pass to the unmarked Kasami.

Ruiz, Fulham’s £10.6m deadline-day signing from Dutch club FC Twente, was given his first start since a disappointing debut against Blackburn.

He made more of an impact this time and his clever back-heel set up Frei, prompting Alex to make the challenge which led to his dismissal and the spot-kick that Kasami made a hash of.

Fulham seemed to have a decent shout for another penalty when Romeu, temporarily filling in at centre-back as Terry prepared to come on in the wake of Alex’s red card, appeared to shove Sa over but was given the benefit of the doubt by referee Chris Hoy.

Terry came on for the unfortunate McEachran and Chelsea missed the 18-year-old’s creativity as Lampard, who had replaced Sturridge, struggled to make an impact.

And Chelsea struggled to deal with a sustained spell of second-half Fulham pressure during which Turnbull blocked Dembele’s shot and produced a fine save to prevent an own goal by Terry.

Matthew Briggs sprinted past veteran full-back Paulo Ferreira and, in attempting to clear the youngster’s left-wing cross, Terry succeeded only in heading towards his own net and had his blushes spared by Turnbull’s superb tip over.

Schwarzer then did well to stop Terry scoring at the right end, diving to keep out the England captain’s header, before Lampard blazed over with a late attempt to avoid extra time.

The additional half an hour was sometimes played at walking pace and neither side came close to finding the net before Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell almost scored against his former club with a well-struck volley that flashed just over.

When Lampard’s penalty was stopped by Schwarzer, Chelsea looked destined for yet more shoot-out misery.

Bobby Zamora, on as a substitute, scored from the spot for Fulham, as did Sidwell and Chris Baird, but Dembele was found wanting.

David Luiz, Terry and Salomon Kalou netted for Chelsea and after Malouda followed suit, Ruiz needed to score to keep his team in the cup and was unable to do so.

It left Martin Jol to reflect on what might have been had Kasami not missed his earlier penalty, and the Fulham manager’s opposite number hoping that history repeats itself.

Chelsea put Fulham out of this competition on the way to winning their first trophy under Jose Mourinho.

For Villas-Boas, the Special One’s fellow Portuguese and latest successor, that could turn out to be an omen.