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 Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 22:18 GMT
Cole ends Gills hopes
Carlton Cole wins a header under pressure from David Perpetuini
Cole wins a header under pressure from Perpetuini
Chelsea 2-1 Gillingham

Carlton Cole gave an emphatic reminder to Sven-Goran Eriksson of England's depth in teenage talent with a fine display of striking skills at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Cole might be a relative veteran compared to Everton's precocious Wayne Rooney but in his first start of the season he showed exactly why Chelsea are so excited about his prospects.

Key moments
20 mins: Cole opens the scoring
52 mins: Coles heads his, and Chelsea's, second
90 mins: King scores a consolation goal for the visitors

Cole, who suffered a hairline fracture in his leg in August, scored two goals to make a formality of this Worthington Cup third-round tie which was never as close as the scoreline suggests.

But if Cole stole the headlines, the 36-year-old Gianfranco Zola also proved that age barely matters when it comes to footballing style with another vibrant performance.

Unlike many of his Premiership colleagues, Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri made just four changes from the team which drew 0-0 with Tottenham on Sunday.

Marcel Desailly was rested along with Mario Melchiot. Emmanuel Petit started on the bench and Jimmy Hasselbaink was sidelined with an ankle injury.

The first goal came in the 20th minute. Central defender William Gallas was the architect, producing a wonderful through ball which glided into the path of Cole.

In acres of space, the teenager took the ball in his stride, waited for Gillingham goalkeeper Jason Brown to commit himself, and then coolly slid the ball into the empty net.

Carlton is one of the best young players in England - he must improve, but he has lots of skill

Claudio Ranieri
Chelsea manager
There was a predictability about the encounter from that moment. While Gillingham battled, they could not trouble a Chelsea defence expertly marshalled by Gallas and John Terry.

It took just seven minutes of the second half for Cole to prove that he is just as good in the air as he is on the floor.

Jody Morris broke down the right and sent over a pin-point chip which Cole met at the far post with a powerful header into the far corner of the net.

Two minutes later Ranieri substituted Cole, hard work completed, and brought on Jesper Gronkjaer.

Winston Bogarde was also thrown into the action for the first time since Boxing Day 2000, coming on to replace Quique De Lucas.

Gillingham took heart from the changes and Mamady Sidibe missed a simple chance before substitute Marlon King poached a last-second consolation goal.


Chelsea: Cudicini, Ferrer, Gallas, Terry, Babayaro, Morris, Lampard, De Lucas, Le Saux, Zola, Cole. Subs: Pidgeley, Bogarde, Petit, Oliveira, Gronkjaer.

Gillingham: Brown, Nosworthy, Ashby, Hope, Perpetuini, Hessenthaler, Smith, Saunders, Shaw, Sidibe, Ipoua. Subs: Bartram, King, James, Spiller, Tommy Johnson.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Sport's David Oates
"Chelsea looked very comfortable"
 VOTE RESULTS
Has the competition regained its sparkle?

Yes
 54.97% 

No
 45.02% 

18082 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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