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23 August 2016

Chelsea 3-2 Bristol Rovers

Attendance: 39,266

Rovers knocked out of the EFL Cup after a 3-2 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Michy Batshuayi netted a brace for the Premier League side with Victor Moses completing the scoring for Chelsea with Peter Hartley and Ellis Harrison grabbing the Rovers goals.

Darrell Clarke made two changes to the side that drew with Southend United on Saturday, handing starts to Billy Bodin and Luke James at the expense of James Clarke and Matty Taylor who took a place on the substitutes bench.

It was unsurprisingly all Chelsea in the opening 20 minutes however, the Premier League side failed to really test Steve Mildenhall in the Rovers goal.

Early shots for Michy Batshuayi and Pedro found themselves in good positions but curled both of their efforts wide of the post before Nemanja Matic found Batshuayi in space but the Belgian International dragged his effort wide of the goal with only Mildenhall to beat.

On 20 minutes, Darrell Clarke's side were handed a huge slice of luck as Ruben Loftus-Cheek powered through the midfield before pulling the trigger from the edge of the penalty area. His shot came crashing back off the inside of the post before hitting Steve Mildenhall in the back before Rovers were able to clear.

Antonio Conte's team continued to look impressive and took the lead in the 30th minute. Nemanja Matic was allowed too much time inside the Rovers penalty area and was able to pull it back towards the penalty spot where Machy Batshuayi was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net.

Hardly any time had passed before the Premier League side doubled their lead. Cesar Azpilicueta was able to keep what looked like a lost cause in at the far post crossing the ball into the middle of the penalty area where Victor Moses scrambled the ball home.

However, Rovers hit back almost instantly as Peter Hartley headed home an inch perfect free kick from Chris Lines as 4,000 Gasheads erupted at Stamford Bridge.

Rovers then went on to have a small spell of possession as Chris Lines was able to pick out Ellis Harrison in the box but the Wales Under-21 International headed his effort wide of the target.

In what was largely a dominant half for the home side, Batshuayi restored Chelsea's two goal advantage just before half time. Ruben Loftus-Cheek got the better of Peter Hartley in the penalty area before finding Batshuayi who stroked the ball past Mildenhall.

Darrell Clarke made two changes at half time bringing Jermaine Easter and Matty Taylor into the action replacing Luke James and Billy Bodin as Rovers seemingly changed shape going more attacking.

The changes paid off almost instantly as Stuart Sinclair raced through the middle and into the Chelsea penalty area where he was fouled by Pedro and referee Keith Stroud awarded Rovers a penalty.

Ellis Harrison stepped up and kept his cool as he smashed his penalty straight down the middle giving Asmir Begovic no chance.

Rovers looked a completely different side in the second half playing with exceptional confidence as substitute Jermaine Easter found space in the penalty area. He was closed to well by Branislav Ivanovic but the Serbian's clearance found Ellis Harrison who struck the ball first time but his volley clipped the crossbar and went over.

Minutes later, Asmir Begovic was called into action again as Jermaine Easter was given plenty of space 30-yards out but the Chelsea keeper was equal to it tipping it around the post.

With just over 15 minutes remaining, Antonio Conte made his first change as Eden Hazard came on replacing Pedro before John Terry took to the field replacing the injured Ola Aina.

Chelsea seemingly took their foot off the gas during the second half trying to hit Rovers on the counter attack with Eden Hazard's pace and trickery causing the Rovers back line all sorts of trouble.

In the final stages of the game Michy Batshuayi had the ball in the back of the net for what looked to be his hattrick but his close range effort was ruled out for offside.

Up next for Darrell Clarke's men is a trip to the County Ground to take in Swindon Town as Rovers return to SkyBet League One action.

Chelsea: Begovic; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic (C), Aina (Terry - 77); Fabregas, Matic; Pedro (Hazard - 75), Loftus-Cheek (Oscar - 82), Moses; Batshuayi.

Unused Substitutes: Courtois (GK), Costa, Chalobah, Solanke.

Rovers: Mildenhall; Leadbitter, Lockyer (C), Hartley, Brown; Bodin (Easter - 46), O. Clarke, Sinclair, Lines, James (Taylor - 46); Harrison (Gaffney - 66).

Unused Substitutes: Puddy (GK), J. Clarke, Montano, Broom.

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