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Chelsea head into the unknown after monumental day in club history


I

t was going to be hard for anything on the pitch to live up to the off-field ructions caused by Roman Abramovich before this FA Cup fifth round tie.

But Luton Town did their best to focus minds back on football by coming so close to inflicting a famous upset on Chelsea.

Leading twice, the Championship side gave the European champions an almighty fright.

In the end it took more than £140million-worth of Abramovich signings secure Thomas Tuchel’s side a place in the quarter-finals, with Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku completing a second-half comeback.

Kenilworth Road is a reminder of football before the Premier League. Football before billionaire or state-sponsored ownership.

And the old ground rocked as Luton revelled in bringing Chelsea down to earth.

The home crowd zealously taunted the visiting fans with chants of: “You’re getting sold in the morning” following Abramovich’s announcement that he plans to offload the club after 19 years of ownership.

It is hard to imagine the oligarch’s statement – particularly the timing of it, shortly before kick-off – cannot have had an effect on the players.

Perhaps it was a heady cocktail of distracted minds and the hot reception from Luton that so nearly created the perfect storm.

If Abramovich’s announcement came as a shock – so did Luton’s opening goal after just two minutes through a Reece Burke header.

Chelsea – much-changed after Tuchel feared overload following Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final – were rattled by their opponents’ sharp passing and pace.

Even after equalising through Saul Niguez in the first half, they still looked vulnerable on the break.


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