Branislav Ivanovic’s extra-time header saw Chelsea progress to the Capital One Cup final 2-1 on aggregate following a 1-0 semi-final second-leg win over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Ivanovic headed home four minutes into extra-time to settle an engrossing match in which Liverpool failed to make the most of their superior opportunities.
The Blues were favourites going into the clash following a 1-1 draw at Anfield in the first-leg, but were given one of their toughest tests of the season up against Brendan Rodgers’ fast-paced side.
To counter the visitors’ style, Jose Mourinho opted to start the promising Kurt Zouma over Gary Cahill, telling Sky Sports before the encounter: “He's very fast. He's the fastest defender we have and Liverpool normally play on the counter-attack with fast players to get in behind.
"We believe in spite of him being a young kid and this being the first time he plays in the semi-final of a cup, we believe that his evolution has been good in the Capital One Cup.
"We don't deny that we try to reach the final and win the competition but sometimes there is a space for the improvement of young players and Zouma is an important young player for us."
Making his fourth start in the competition this season, the French centre-back had one or two naïve moments over the course of the match, but his pace, strength and confidence was also clear for all to see.
Aged just 20, he still has a huge amount of growth ahead of him but, judging from his recent performances, his future at Stamford Bridge is undoubtedly bright.
Fans certainly seem to agree with that sentiment, with many taking to Twitter after he match to both hail his impact on the night and call for more playing time.
Zouma>Cahill. Proven fact— The Good Ayew Bro ⚽ (@King_Africa_) January 28, 2015
Kurt Zouma is so good— Nic (@merolxn) January 28, 2015
It's also great to see Jose Mourinho giving Kurt Zouma more and more game time. Young CB has very bright future. #CFC— Ben Smeaton (@benny_s_1992) January 28, 2015
I am a big fan of Cahill. But what I saw today, Zouma should make the first 11 from now!! Cahill needs to prove. Zouma is playing great.— Mr. Chelsea (@Shivam_CFC) January 28, 2015
Zouma had Raheem in his back pocket. Absolute of a beast.— Mr. Chelsea (@Shivam_CFC) January 28, 2015
Kurt Zouma was amazing today Except for that one moment when he gave Sterling a wide berth to shoot Future legend !— Kashyap (@themadGigolo) January 28, 2015
I'm still looking for Raheem Sterling but I've been told he's been tucked nicely away in Kurt Zouma's pocket.— Notorious B.I.G (@TheMeisterr) January 27, 2015
Zouma proved he can step up today, great news, Jose needs to consider him more often— . (@ManLikeOscar) January 27, 2015
Need Zouma to play against City. They'll target Cahill & get Aguero run at him, whereas, its extremely difficult to dribble past Zouma.— TheMaticRole (@TheMaticRole) January 27, 2015
Zouma could be up there with the best in the next couple of years.— 卢克 (@FFSITSLUKE) January 27, 2015
Zouma, man of the match for me. Absolute beast at the back. Won everything and used the ball well. Not 1 mistake I can recall. #TakeABowSon— King Costa (@ChelseaJunglist) January 27, 2015
Zouma is a fans favourite. People singing his name. Such a great young player, future legend.— Freddie (@FJPCFC) January 27, 2015
Kurt Zouma is a legend— Chris (@ccooksley46) January 27, 2015
Hopefully Zouma gets a run in the team! Cahill hasn't been cutting it lately— Bez (@Jamieeeee10) January 27, 2015