Bradford City produced one of the all time shocks of the FA Cup as they dumped out Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge after being 2-0 down.
Chelsea who were looking for glory domestically and in Europe, rested several of their normal first team squad- but on paper you still would have backed the Blues to win this one.
The West Londoners had Petr Cech in goal and also gave only a second start Andreas Christensson who was playing at right back, Diego Costa who I talked up before the game, was left out all together. Chelsea did though however have Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard on the bench, maybe the Blues had one eye on this weeks second leg semi final against Liverpool.
As for the visitors Bradford they were at full strength, well they fielded the best team they had available. Billy Clarke who has been a key player for The Bantams this year, returned to the squad after a six game lay off- but the 27 year old started on the bench for this one.
At the start of this game there was 49 places separating the two sides – but it was Bradford who arguably had the better of the opening exchanges against their Premier League counterparts. Bradford centre back Andrew Davies forced Chelsea keeper Petr Cech into a fine save.
Bradford who many were expecting to offer their main threat from set pieces, conceded from a set piece themselves. Chelsea midfielder Oscar delivered the corner which centre back Gary Cahill converted to give the Premier League side the lead.
The League One side at this point might have been fearing the worst against their Premier League hosts. It deed indeed get worse for Bradford, Mohammed Salah, a player who benefited from Jose Mouriniho’s decision to rotate his squad. The former Basel player who is expected to leave Chelsea, provided the ball for Ramires to convert to make the score 2-0 and put the game out of Bradford’s reach – or so we thought.
Bantams striker John Stead scored a couple minutes after Chelsea’s second goal with a powerful strike from the edge of the box which left Chelsea keeper Petr Cech with no chance. A great time for Bradford to score, the League One visitors were only one goal behind at the break.
Buoyed by grabbing a late first half goal, it was Bradford who started the second half the better. The visitors despite being two leagues lower than their hosts, were not overawed – and were asking questions of the league leaders.
Sensing that the League One side were getting more confident, Blues boss Mourinho looked to some of his big guns in an attempt to regain control of the match. Mohammed Salah was replaced by Brazilian Willian as Jose Mourinho was looking to kill this game off as a contest.
An injury to Jon Obi Mikel forced the Chelsea boss to bring on Cesc Fabregas as well. With the introduction of the former Barcelona midfielder, many would have seen such a substitution as a plus, due to Fabregas’ brilliant passing ability and calming influence – which was definitely needed.
Ironically Bradford grabbed an equaliser, and were daring to dream of an FA Cup replay. Former Chelsea player Filipe Morais who left Chelsea as a teenager, grabbed the equaliser with a right footed shot in to to the bottom right hand corner.
The former Porto manager Mourinho probably couldn’t believe what was unfolding out on the pitch in front of him. Bradford were starting to defend deeper were ushered forward by their manager Phil Parkinson. Eden Hazard came on for The Blues as they tried to avoid an FA Cup replay, which is the last thing you want to see as Bradford player. With pace to burn and with plenty of ‘trickery’ Chelsea were hoping Hazard could be the man to save them from FA Cup embarrassment.
Bradford who hadn’t made any substitutions, at this point would have been understandably tired. The West Yorkshire side battled hard and were well worthy of the replay for their sheer endeavour alone. The Bantams made their first substitution 10 minutes from the end, the change inadvertently paid dividends as Bradford went in front!
Jon Stead who scored the first goal, this time turned provider for Andy Halliday who smashed an unstoppable effort into to the top right corner to send the 6,000 Bradford fans behind Petr Cech’s goal into raptures!
The League One side, who would have been content with an FA Cup replay before the start of the game, were on the brink of a famous FA Cup – and another ‘giant killing’ . Chelsea from not wanting a replay, were now desperately searching for the equaliser which would have saw this game go to a replay at Valley Parade.
As Chelsea were pushing forward, they left themselves open to the counter attack – and that’s what duly happened. Mark Yeates who came on as a sub, placed his effort into the bottom right corner to kill of this FA Cup tie once and for all with a fourth.
This defeat was only the second at home for Jose Mourinho, an impressive feat for Bradford City. It’s onwards and upwards from here on in for the mighty Bantams! Who will no doubt fear no one in the fifth round of the FA Cup.