League One Bradford City came from two down at Chelsea to win 4-2, and complete one of the most dramatic comebacks in FA Cup history.
Chelsea had taken what looked to be an unassailable two-goal lead through Gary Cahill and Ramires, but strikes from Jon Stead, Filipe Morais, Andy Halliday and Mark Yeates turned the tie on its head and sent it into FA Cup folklore.
Chelsea 2-4 Bradford
Saturday 24 January 2015
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Jose Mourinho had rung the changes, nine in total, from the side that drew 1-1 with Liverpool in the League Cup on Tuesday.
Gary Cahill and John Mikel Obi where the only two outfield players to retain their places in the Blues’ starting berth, while there were rare starts for Loic Remy and captain for the day Didier Drogba.
And it was one of the two survivors who opened the scoring for the home side.
Cahill sprinted to the near post to meet Oscar’s corner and apply a deft flick at waist height past Ben Williams – his 12th for the Blues.
However, it had not been plane sailing for the Premier League leaders before Cahill’s 21st-minute strike.
Despite being separated by two divisions and 49 places, the visitors started the brighter.
Halliday had a goalbound effort from 25 yards deflected behind for a corner.
Watch highlights of Saturday's Cup shock at Stamford Bridge
Ex-Chelsea trainee Filipe Morais took the corner from the right and it was met with a bullet header from Andrew Davies. It took a world-class save from Petr Cech to palm the ball onto the post and away from danger.
Bradford were holding their own. Morais seemed to have the beating of Cesar Azpilicueta on the right and another former Chelsea trainee – Billy Knott – looked lively in the middle.
However, Cahill’s goal seemed to take the wind out of the League One side’s sails and they were rattled.
Drogba twice went close before Ramires eventually made it 2-0 to Mourinho’s men after a neat one-two with Mohamed Salah.
Bradford could have been forgiven for letting their heads drop at this point.
But roared on by the 6,000 travelling fans in The Shed end, the Yorkshire side got their reward, as Stead hauled them back into the contest with a thunderbolt left-footer from the edge of the box.
Bradford’s only other victory at Stamford Bridge came over a century ago, in 1912, and despite Stead’s strike you sensed it would take another once-in-lifetime effort to repeat the feat.
And a once-in-a-lifetime performance they got.
As the second half got under way Bradford came out of the blocks firing.
Morais, Hanson and Knott all had chances to equalise as Parkinson’s men dominated the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Mourinho was out of his seat, barking instructions at his household names. The Chelsea manager was concerned. On came Eden Hazard, Willian and Cesc Fabregas, but it was to no avail.
With 15 minutes to play, Morais drew Bradford level and sent the travelling fans into ecstasy.
If they thought that was special, seven minutes later they were in dreamland as Halliday met Stead’s layoff to calmly fire past Cech and put them into the lead for the first time in the game.
Seven minutes of added time were announced, to groans from the visiting contingent and cheers from the Chelsea supporters.
But as Chelsea pushed everyone forward, Bradford broke with Stead again at the heart of the action – as he laid the ball off to substitute Yeates to place home to complete one of the greatest turnarounds in competition history.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta; Ramires, John Mikel Obi; Loic Remy, Oscar, Mohammed Salah; Didier Drogba (c).
Substitutes: Willian for Salah 70. Cesc Fabregas for Mikel 71. Eden Hazard for Remy 76.
Substitutes not used: Thibaut Courtois, Nathan Ake, John Terry, Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Goals: Cahill 21. Ramires 38.
Bradford City (4-4-2): Ben Williams; Stephen Darby, Rory McArdle, Andrew Davis, James Meredith; Filipe Morais, Andy Halliday, Gary Liddle, Billy Knott; Jon Stead, James Hanson.
Substitutes: Mark Yeates for Knott 80. Christopher Routis for Halliday 87. Billy Clarke for Morais 89.
Substitutes not used: Matthew Urwin, Alan Sheehan, , Francois Zoko, Jason Kennedy.
Bookings: McArdle. Darby.
Goals: Stead 41. Morais 75. Halliday 82. Yeates 90.
Referee: Andre Marriner