Defender Antonio Rudiger scored the only goal in a Carabao Cup second-leg semifinal win over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday in London. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE
Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Defender Antonio Rudiger used his upper back to deflect a corner kick feed into the net to lead Chelsea to a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur and guide the Blues into the 2022 Carabao Cup final.
Rudiger's ricochet came in the 18th minute of the second-leg semifinal victory Wednesday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
"It feels great," Blues coach Thomas Tuchel told Chelsea TV. "It was a tough match. There is a big reward waiting and that's playing at Wembley Stadium [in London].
"Every player waits and wishes to play a final at Wembley."
The Blues and Spurs were tied 0-0 when midfielder Mason Mount went to the left flag to attempt the corner kick. He sent the kick from left to right and dripped it toward the near post.
Left back Malang Sarr ran around a wall of defenders and into the area first, but Mount's feed sailed over his head. Rudiger snuck in behind Sarr and jumped between several defenders and just beat Spurs keeper Pierluigi Gollini to the ball.
Rudiger turned his body and hit used the back of his head and upper back to deflect the ball toward the net. His shot hit off the crossbar and bounced into the goal.
"Toni has developed really well since he arrived," Blues right back Cesar Azpilicueta said of Rudiger. "He has had a very big impact. Now he's even a big threat on set-plays, which is amazing. The aggression that he has, the way he plays with the ball, it's a pleasure to have him in our team."
Spurs outshot the Blues 15-13 in the loss. Each team totaled just three shots on target. The Blues held possession for 64% of the match.
The Blues battle Manchester United in Premier League play at 7:30 a.m. EST Saturday at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England. They battle Liverpool or Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final on Feb. 27 in London. The Reds and Gunners play the first leg of their semifinal at 2:45 p.m. EST Thursday at Anfield in Liverpool, England.
Spurs host Arsenal in the Premier League at 11:30 a.m. EST Sunday in London.