Middlesbrough picked up a shocking result over Chelsea in the League Cup semifinal first leg on Tuesday. The Championship side, which is 12th in the league table, scored the only goal on the night to take a one-goal lead into the second leg. Middlesbrough entered the game on a nine-game losing streak against Chelsea in all competitions. In cup competitions, Middlesbrough had lost the last five without even scoring a goal.

On Tuesday, Hayden Hackney’s goal set up a chance for Middlesbrough to reach the League Cup Final.

Boro cashes in while Chelsea misses chances

The first chance of the League Cup semifinal came to Cole Palmer. The young star for Chelsea received a pass just outside the 18-yard box. His powerful shot went straight at Middlesbrough goalkeeper Tom Glover. Glover blocked the shot down low, and the hosts desperately cleared the ball away.

The first half was a dreary one. There were several fouls by both teams, but neither managed a strong chance until the half-hour mark. Yet again, it was Cole Palmer for Chelsea that came close to scoring. Sloppy play at the back from Boro led a stray pass directly to the feet of Cole Palmer. The Englishman took two touches to get the ball on his left foot. One-on-one against Glover, Palmer dragged his shot wide of the post, leaving the game scoreless. Boro fans showered Palmer with Jeers about the miss, which would prove costly just minutes later.

Middlesbrough’s game plan was to beat Chelsea on the counter-attack while soaking up as much pressure as possible. One long ball over the top was the difference in the first half for the hosts. Isaiah Jones controlled the ball inside the Chelsea box. He played a quick pass to Hayden Hackney who came flying into the box. Hackney guided the ball into the far corner of the goal to give Middlesbrough an unexpected lead.

Boro entered the break with that one-goal lead with Tom Glover not overly busy in the net. Cole Palmer closed the first half with a horrendous miss after Glover made a save on a long shot. He spilled the rebound on a simple catch straight to Palmer. His volley rose above the net on Chelsea’s best chance of the game. Glover then denied Palmer again on a low shot to preserve the lead.

Chelsea dominance meaningless as Middlesbrough wins in League Cup

With the lead secured in the first half, Michael Carrick’s side sat back even deeper than it was in the first half. The low block was effective, too. Despite creative players like Raheem Sterling, Cole Palmer and Mykhailo Mudryk, Chelsea’s build-up play was always too slow. The lethargic play combined with several missed chances to give Middlesbrough a crucial win in the League Cup first leg.

Chelsea had a few chances, none of which were overly threatening. Glover made one save on a difficult header from Noni Madueke. Chelsea left other chances begging by not finishing dangerous crosses. The fact of the matter, though, is that Chelsea’s creativity in the attacking third is lacking. Speaking on ESPN FC after the game, Craig Burley said it was quite an achievement for Chelsea to spend so much on players only to struggle immensely against clearly inferior opposition.

This is not to take away from Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough, though. After finishing in the Premier League playoffs last season, Boro has been struggling in the league this season. Now, it has a great opportunity to advance to the League Cup Final, where it would play which ever club advances out of Fulham and Liverpool.

The return leg at Stamford Bridge is on Tuesday, Jan. 23. Coverage is available on ESPN+.