Fine performance earns Canaries an FA Cup third round replay against Premier League giants Chelsea
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Premier League giants Chelsea have been taken to an FA Cup third round replay after a spirited Norwich City effort secured a 0-0 draw at Carrow Road - with the Canaries more than holding their own.
Chelsea made nine changes, resting the majority of their big stars ahead of their EFL Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Wednesday, having drawn 2-2 with the Gunners in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
City made just one change though, matching up to the Blues’ 3-4-3 formation by bringing Christoph Zimmermann for Nelson Oliveira, going with an attacking triumvirate of James Maddison, Alex Pritchard and Josh Murphy.
The hosts had the best of a hard-fought first half featuring few chances, the best of which saw Jamal Lewis set Murphy clear down the left in the 17th minute and the attacker’s shot almost caught Willy Caballero at his near post but the keeper claimed the ball.
Murphy curled a shot over the bar after cutting in from the left in the 28th minute and left wing-back Kenedy saw a shot deflect off Zimmermann and behind three minutes later, in the Blues’ best chance of the opening 45 minutes.
More fine play from Lewis allowed Murphy to tear through on goal in the 35th minute, beating Antonio Rudiger but getting his shot horribly wrong and firing across goal.
Zappacosta had to prod a Pritchard cross from the right behind with Lewis breathing down his neck three minutes before the break as City continued to set the tempo, with the home crowd cheering the players down the tunnel at half-time.
There was an early scare for the Canaries as Davide Zappacosta somehow kept a Kenedy cross in play at the back post, heading across goal, where Zimmermann hooked clear yards from his own line.
Chelsea had come out looking a different proposition, with Zimmermann having to hook away an awkward header from Davide Zappacosta and both Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko firing shots wide in the opening stages of the second half.
Angus Gunn’s first save came in the 56th minute, getting down low at his post to save from Willian after the forward had left Timm Klose for dust and soon having to make a similar stop from a weaker shot soon after.
Pritchard saw a deflected shot loop over the bar just after the hour mark and Timm Klose headed the resulting Maddison corner wide after jumping too early.
The game continued to open up and Maddison swung in a free-kick from the right in the 69th minute which Willy Caballero flapped at, punching weakly to Murphy to the left of the penalty area, whose low shot deflected just wide of the far post.
Antonio Conte’s response was to throw on £60million summer signing Alvaro Morata in place of the ineffective Michy Batshuayi up front, the Blues top scorer, with 12 goals to his names since signing from Real Madrid.
David Luiz fired a free-kick just wide in the 77th minute as last season’s runners-up began to apply the pressure but Murphy offered a response two minutes later, controlling a wonderful ball forward from Pritchard but blazing high and wide from 30 yards.
Drinkwater stung Gunn’s gloves in the 82nd minutes after a Zimmermann headed clearance dropped favourably 20 yards out, before Norwich threw on Nelson Oliveira and Yanic Wildschut to try and find a winner in the closing stages.
However, it was more about desperately hanging on as Chelsea tried to salvage progress, with Zappacosta firing just wide in injury-time, drawing proud cheers from the Carrow Road crowd at the final whistle as trip to Stamford Bridge was teed up.
The draw for the fourth round is scheduled to be made at around 7.10pm on Monday and is being televised on BBC Two and BT Sport, as well as on both of the broadcasters’ websites.
The last 32 will contest those ties over the weekend of January 26-28, with the winners to claim £90,000 in prize money.
The Canaries return to Championship action next Saturday when they travel to high-flying Bristol City.
Norwich (3-4-3): Gunn; Hanley, Zimmermann, Klose; Pinto (C), Tettey, Trybull, Lewis; Pritchard (Wildschut 87), Maddison, Murphy (Oliveira 83). Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Husband, Vrancic, Watkins, Hoolahan.
Booked: Hanley (foul on Bakayoko, 76)
Chelsea (3-4-3): Caballero; Rudiger, Luiz, Cahill (C); Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Bakayoko, Kenedy (Musonda 78); Willian, Pedro (Sterling 90), Batshuayi (Morata 74). Unused subs: Eduardo (GK), Ampadu, Clarke-Salter, Hudson-Odoi,
Booked: Luiz (foul on Maddison, 41), Cahill (foul on Pritchard, 61)
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warks)