Chelsea 3 Luton: Abramovich’s record purchase In an FA Cup thriller, Lukaku wins it as the Blues forget about their off-field problems.
Frank Lampard was fired two days after Chelsea beat Luton in the FA Cup the last time.
So the fact that Roman Abramovich is otherwise occupied right now is possibly a blessing in disguise for Thomas Tuchel.
Because almost being knocked out of two cup tournaments in four days is usually an indication that the manager should start packing his belongings.
Tuchel knows that his Chelsea players cannot afford to be distracted by the off-field controversy, despite the fact that they barely made it into tonight’s quarter-final draw.
Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku scored second-half goals to beat a spirited Luton side that had just been in the National League for eight years.
However, in this ultimate fight of the haves versus the have-nots, there wasn’t much to choose between two sides who may face off in the Premier League next season.
Tuchel, fed up with being used as a human shield by Chelsea’s oligarch owner Roman Abramovich, could have done without Abramovich’s pre-match declaration that the club is for sale.
And after the events of the previous several days, the last thing the German needed was to see his team fall behind after only 100 seconds.
Maybe his teammates were still suffering from the news of the owner’s plan to flee, because they weren’t paying attention to Luke Berry’s early left corner.
And Malang Sarr didn’t move an inch as Reece Burke snuck in front of him to glance a header in off the far post.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, who failed to stop any of the 11 penalties he faced in Sunday’s shoot-out loss, was beaten yet again by the very first attempt on his goal.
Tuchel had made nine changes to his starting lineup, and if the manager had hoped for a big response from his temporary squad, he would have been bitterly disappointed.
Even when Luton goalkeeper Jed Steer suffered an Achilles injury while sprinting out to prevent a through pass in the 14th minute, the visitors were not posing much of a danger.
Gabe Osho gave them a huge helping hand to get them back into this tie as the Luton midfielder gave up possession for Werner to set up Saul Niguez for a 28th minute strike into the far corner.
Kenedy, who had not played for Chelsea since January 2018, was denied by a leaping stop from Harry Isted before Lukaku’s first-time shot was pushed behind for a corner.
But, just as it appeared that the European Champions were starting to click into gear, their shaky defense undid them once more on the 40th minute.
Sarr was caught offside by Carlos Mendes Gomes’ through ball, and he appealed unsuccessfully for an offside flag, but Harry Cornick didn’t waste any time, racing away to bury his effort beyond Kepa.
Tuchel was so adamant that the goal should have been ruled out that he was yellow carded for his enraged touchline protests, yet he was wasting his breath because there was no VAR to back up his accusations.
Werner, on the other hand, was not moaning when he collected Ruben Loftus-pass Cheek’s on his thigh and equalized in the 68th minute.
The raucous Kenilworth Road crowd knew there was no way back when Werner crossed for Lukaku to sneak in a 79th minute winner.
They told the traveling fans, “You’re getting sold in the morning,” but chance would be a good thing.
Chelsea will have to wait a long time to get out of this horrible situation.
Tuchel, on the other hand, may rest easy for the time being.