BLACKBURN, December 3 – A double penalty save by Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson sent his side into the semi-finals of the League Cup 4-3 in a shootout after an enthralling encounter here with Chelsea.A Benni McCarthy spotkick in the third minute of extra-time looked like being enough to help Rovers win 3-2 before Paulo Ferreira equalised for the Premier League leaders to make it 3-3 and send the match to spot-kicks.
Robinson then saved from Michael Ballack and French youngster Gael Kakuta to win the encounter and so set up a semi-final against Aston Villa.
Earlier goals by Nikola Kalinic and Brett Emerton for Blackburn and Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou for Chelsea set up a thrilling match at Ewood Park.
Blackburn made five changes and Chelsea even more as they had seven different faces from the starting line-up that defeated Arsenal 3-0 in the Premier League at the weekend.
Kalinic gave the home side an unexpected shock lead after just nine minutes when Pascal Chimbonda threaded a superb delivery through to the Croatian who tapped past Henrique Hilario for a well taken opener.
Kalou then missed the target with a free header from six yards out shortly before Michael Ballack also wastefully shot wide from long-range as Chelsea attempted to get back into the match.
Joe Cole tried to inject some flair into Chelsea’s attacking play but found the home side’s defence eager to close him down while Jason Roberts and South Africa star McCarthy also suffered the same problem for Rovers.
As half-time approached Blackburn’s defence was finally caught asleep allowing Ballack to rifle a Florent Malouda effort goalwards but it finally swerved wide of the post to sum up their first half.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti made three changes at half-time in a bid to kick-start his side and the tactic worked immediately as Drogba brilliantly equalised after 48 minutes.
Frank Lampard called Drogba the "best striker in the world" earlier this week, and he proved his power and ability as he superbly rose above Blackburn’s defence and powered home a header.
Chelsea then took the lead just four minutes later after Kalou made the most of acres off space following Ballack’s fine long ball and he managed to roll past the onrushing Robinson with ease.
Blackburn were not finished there though as Emerton then fooled everybody with a cross-cum-shot that went in to equalise.
He delivered a deep ball into the box that missed everyone, particularly after Hilario was put off by Kalinic’s jump in front of him, and the ball ended up in the net.
Chelsea were then further dismayed as Kalou was forced off with an injury soon after and, as the visitors had made all their substitutions, they were now forced to play with 10 men.
That did not stop Drogba from nearly finding a winner though and he would have done apart from a brilliant stop from Robinson.
Meanwhile Kalinic also went close at the other end.
Rovers thought they had it won when McCarthy swept home in the 91st minute from Emerton’s pass but he was marginally offside.
Kalinic then went achingly close seconds later but a clincher in normal time would not arrive.
However, just three minutes into the first period of extra-time, substitute David Hoilett was brought down directly in front of referee Alan Wiley and McCarthy made no mistake from 12 yards.
There was more to come though as Ferreira’s finish and the subsequent shootout were to prove.