It took an intense penalty shoot-out for Chelsea to overcome West London rivals Fulham at Stamford Bridge and advance to the next round of Carling Cup.
After a goalless stalemate, which involved another injury for Petr Cech, a knock for Daniel Sturridge, and a red card for Alex, the Blues needed an inconclusive spot-kick from the Cottagers’s summer signing Bryan Ruiz to emerge triumphant.
With the visitors trailing 4-3 in the build-up to the final spot-kick, Ruiz struck the crossbar and although the ball initially appeared to have crossed the line past Ross Turnbull, the goal was not awarded.
Earlier, Moussa Dembele and Frank Lampard had both failed to convert from the spot but Florent Malouda’s successful conversion handed Chelsea the advantage before the dramatic finale.
Elsewhere, another penalty shoot-out was needed in Cardiff, where the home side eliminated Leicester City following a 2-2 draw over the course of 120 highly competitive minutes.
Merseyside duo Liverpool and Everton enjoyed 2-1 wins over Brighton and West Bromwich Albion, respectively, while Southampton overcame Preston North End with the same score.
Finally, Manchester City defeated holders Birmingham at the Etihad Stadium in a match that saw both Owen Hargreaves and Mario Balotelli score to lead Roberto Mancini’s men to their first win in the last three outings in all competitions.