Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge in a competitive capacity for the first time since leaving the club, but it wasn’t the triumphant homecoming he was hoping for.
Chelsea made eight changes from the side that thumped Burnley at the weekend, but it was still a strong one featuring the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Cesc Fabregas and N’Golo Kante.
Derby were unbeaten since September, but got off to a bizarre start at Stamford Bridge.
Fikayo Tomori is on loan at the club from Chelsea, and it was he who scored an own goal within the first five minutes.
Though merely a horrendous error, it didn’t stop tongue-in-cheek suspicions of the defender being a double agent. To their credit, Derby responded soon after, with Jack Marriott scoring when Tom Huddlestone pounced on some poor interplay between Fabregas and Gary Cahill.
Lampard’s charges shot themselves in the foot once again however, with captain Richard Keogh turning it into his own net – a moment to forget for the Irishman.
Despite these glaring mistakes, the Rams had a real go at the home side. Tom Lawrence was a constant threat down the left, and it was from there that Derby’s second equaliser was created.
Mason Mount set up Martin Waghorn, who finished it off – making up for an earlier one-on-one fluff when he stumbled while shooting.
Chelsea would take a 3-2 lead into the second half courtesy of a veteran in Fabregas, who ran into the box to shoot much like Lampard back in the day.
The underdogs offered a similarly huge attacking threat after the restart, though they were unable to make good on their chances despite often having the better of the run of play.
Mount and Keogh went close, while Marriott had a one-v-one shot saved by Willy Caballero after another Chelsea error in midfield yielded possession.
The Blues ultimately held on to continue Maurizio Sarri’s undefeated start to life at the club, and can look forward to the quarter finals. Lampard and Derby will turn their focus towards maintaining their spot in the Championship play-off places.