Mark Hughes hailed the fighting qualities of his Stoke City players after they battled their way to a Capital One Cup win over Chelsea.
Stoke took the lead in the fourth round tie in the 52nd minute through a superb Jonathan Walters strike but saw Chelsea level just as the game seemed safe, with substitute Loic Remy converting an equaliser in stoppage time at the Britannia Stadium.
Moments later the Potters had Phil Bardsley sent off, but the visitors could not make their man advantage count in the additional period as Stoke held on to take the game to a penalty shootout, which they won 5-4 after Jack Butland saved from Eden Hazard.
Butland’s heroic turn in the shootout capped what was a fine all-round display from the England goalkeeper.
And Hughes said: “He made any number of saves.
“He made a couple in the first half when Chelsea were probably the better team – in the second half I think we edged it, with Jonathan Walters scoring a fantastic goal.
“I thought we had done enough in normal time to take the game away from them, and then there was great drama at the end. I’m just glad it has gone our way.”
Having lost at home to Watford in the Premier League at the weekend, Hughes was delighted with the character his side showed to keep Chelsea at bay during extra-time despite Bardsley’s sending-off.
Hughes added: “To pick ourselves up (after Chelsea equaliser) was difficult, but then losing Phil almost immediately meant we were down to 10 men with the walking wounded.
“We just had to stay in the game. We stuck at it, showed great determination, fantastic qualities from everybody to get to penalties.
“All in all it was a great performance that showed the character we have.”
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