League Cup: Chelsea, Liverpool survive scares; West Brom bounced

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Swansea.

AP Photo/Jon Supe/Getty Images

MANCHESTER, England — Chelsea needed a late own goal to squeeze past fourth-tier Shrewsbury and Mario Balotelli sparked a dramatic fightback by Liverpool as the two Premier League giants reached the League Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday.

A patched-up Chelsea lineup looked like being taken to extra time by a team 71 places below it in English football’s pyramid, only for Jermaine Grandison to head into his own net after 81 minutes to seal a 2-1 win for the Premier League leaders.

Didier Drogba had given Chelsea the lead in the 48th, with the 36-year-old striker scoring for the third straight game and just two days after netting at Manchester United in the Premier League.

Liverpool came from behind to beat Swansea 2-1 thanks to two late goals, with Balotelli inspiring the comeback with an 86th-minute equalizer. Dejan Lovren headed in the winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

West Bromwich Albion’s decision to field a virtual reserve team against second-tier Bournemouth backfired in a 2-1 loss for the upset of the last 16.

Derby and Sheffield United, who play in the second and third tiers respectively, also advanced on Tuesday.

Chelsea remained unbeaten in all competitions this season – and reached the last eight of the League Cup for the fourth straight season – but only after surviving a scare against the lowest-ranked team left in the competition.

”It was a difficult pitch and difficult weather,” said Drogba, one of four players who were asked to play for the second time in two days. ”They were a fantastic team and opponent – they showed why they deserve to be here tonight.”

Drogba has starred in the absence of injured fellow strikers Loic Remy and Diego Costa, scoring against Maribor in the Champions League last week, in the 1-1 draw at United on Sunday and again against Shrewsbury when he swept home a left-footed finish from Mohamed Salah’s pass.

Shrewsbury equalized in the 77th minute through Andy Mangan but was on level terms for just four minutes, as substitute Willian’s teasing cross was diverted in by Grandison.

”I was ready for extra time,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said.

Balotelli started on the bench against Swansea after a lean spell in front of goal that has led to criticism of the enigmatic Italy striker.

But he was thrown on by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers in the 79th minute after Marvin Emnes gave the visitors the lead, and turned home a cross from Fabio Borini to equalize. It was only Balotelli’s second goal for Liverpool since joining from AC Milan in August.

Swansea defender Federico Fernandez was shown a red card in the second minute of injury time for a foul on Philippe Coutinho, who provided the cross from a free kick that Lovren headed in at the back post for a last-gasp winner.

There was late drama, too, at Bournemouth, which reached the quarterfinals for the first time thanks to Callum Wilson’s 86th-minute strike. West Brom had equalized just a minute earlier from an own goal.

Derby came from 2-0 down to beat Fulham 5-2 away in a match between two League Championship teams. Sheffield United beat fellow third-tier side MK Dons 2-1.