The 1-0 defeat at Riverside Stadium marked a significant setback for the Blues and manager Mauricio Pochettino, Footballrover reports.
Despite an early offensive struggle and a defensive lapse exploited by Middlesbrough’s Isaiah Jones, who assisted Hayden Hackney’s goal, Chelsea failed to capitalise on numerous opportunities.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 9, 2024
Cole Palmer, operating in a new false nine role, missed three crucial chances, highlighting the Blues’ persistent lack of finishing finesse.
This defeat holds historical significance, marking the first time since January 2015 that a lower-league team has overcome Chelsea in any domestic cup competition.
After losing to Huddersfield in October 1999, Chelsea hasn’t also lost a League Cup match against a team in a lower tier until tonight’s loss to Middlesbrough.
The pressure now falls on Pochettino’s shoulders as they face an uphill battle in the second leg at Stamford Bridge in two weeks.
Middlesbrough are the first lower league side to beat Chelsea across any domestic cup competition since Bradford won 4-2 at Stamford Bridge in January 2015.
The Blues' 28-game streak is over. ❌ pic.twitter.com/MKwR4Waqa2
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 9, 2024
The disappointing result emphasises the pressing need for Chelsea to rectify their offensive issues, a challenge that looms large for Pochettino’s squad in the coming fixtures.
He acknowledged potential disappointment among fans but emphasized the remaining 90 minutes to rectify the situation after the 0-1 loss to Boro.