In the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough, Chelsea failed to convert their dominance into goals, according to head coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Despite scoring seven goals in their previous two matches against Luton Town and Preston North End, the Blues squandered numerous chances in the first half at the Riverside Stadium.
Cole Palmer was particularly guilty of missing opportunities, while Hayden Hackney’s winning goal added to Chelsea’s frustration.
Although Chelsea dominated the second half and desperately searched for an equalizer, they struggled to create clear-cut chances. Boro’s resolute defense held firm, securing a famous victory.
Now, Chelsea must wait for two weeks before they have the chance to overturn the 1-0 deficit at Stamford Bridge. However, their immediate focus is on a Premier League game against Fulham on Saturday.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Pochettino expressed his disappointment over the missed opportunities but chose to maintain a positive outlook.
Despite controlling possession for large periods, Chelsea’s inability to convert chances cost them dearly.
The coach said, “Today, our pressure and intensity were good. We made some mistakes in the first half and gave them scoring chances. They were aggressive and tough to break down, playing on the counter-attack and in a deep defensive block. We had plenty of chances to score but failed to convert. That’s football. We are disappointed, but it’s only the first half of the tie. We need to stay positive.”
Pochettino emphasized that Chelsea created more chances and had clearer opportunities than their opponents.
However, their lack of clinical finishing has been a recurring problem throughout the season. While they generate ample chances, the team struggles to convert them into goals, resulting in missed victories.
Following the West London derby against Fulham, Chelsea will enjoy a 10-day break before facing Middlesbrough in the reverse fixture on January 23.
This break provides them with an opportunity to regroup and work on their finishing to ensure they can turn the tie around.
As the second leg approaches, Pochettino encourages his team to remain focused and maintain an attacking mindset.
Chelsea’s ability to create chances is a positive aspect, but they must improve their finishing to secure victories. With a lack of goals hindering their success, the team must capitalize on their opportunities in future matches.