Shaun Wright-Phillips was the hero as holders Chelsea overcame the dismissal of John Obi Mikel to snatch an injury-time winner and a 2-1 victory over Everton in their League Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday.
The Londoners led with a first-half goal by Wright-Phillips but Mikel was sent off in the 55th minute and nine minutes later Aiyegbeni Yakubu equalised to keep alive Everton's hopes of reaching the final for the first time in 24 years.
Wright-Phillips then pressurised defender Joleon Lescott into heading into his own goal two minutes into injury time.
"The character and team spirit we have was shown today when we were down to 10 men," Wright-Phillips told Sky Sports. "Going to Goodison Park (for the second leg on Jan. 23) with a lead means Everton will have to come out and attack."
Chelsea, without a host of leading players through injury, suspension and international duty, looked sharper and had far more attacking intent from the start.
They went ahead when Wright-Phillips was found by France winger Florent Malouda, back after a two-month injury absence, and the England international curled a delightful right-footed shot in off the post.
Everton, knocked out of the FA Cup by third division Oldham Athletic on Saturday, sorely missed the midfield invention of suspended Spaniard Mikel Arteta and created precious little.
The game swung their way though when Mikel was shown a red card for a high tackle on Phil Neville.
The visitors equalised when third-choice keeper Hilario flapped at a James McFadden free kick and Yakubu lashed the ball into the net.
McFadden then clipped the post from a tight angle after a mazy dribble before Chelsea captain Michael Ballack swung in a deep cross for the diminutive Wright-Phillips to nod the ball in off his England team mate Lescott in injury time.
Lescott had time to make amends at the other end in the dying seconds, only to be thwarted by the on-rushing Hilario.
"It's really hard to take," said Everton manager David Moyes. "Chelsea's movement was fantastic in the first half but we kept at it and I thought we might go on and win it."
Arsenal host north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of the other semi-final on Wednesday.
The final will be at Wembley on Feb. 24.