CHELSEA striker Didier Drogba paid tribute to Shrewsbury after the Blues were made to work to secure their place in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.
Drogba put the Premier League leaders ahead three minutes after half-time at Greenhous Meadow but the Shrews were level in the 77th minute when substitute Andy Mangan scored 84 seconds after coming on.
But Jermaine Grandison’s 81st-minute own goal broke Shrewsbury’s hearts and gave Chelsea a 2-1 victory.
After the match, Drogba was quick to praise the performance of League Two outfit Shrewsbury – a side some 72 places below Chelsea in the Football League ladder.
“Fantastic team, fantastic opponent,” the Ivorian said of Scots-born Micky Mellon’s side at the full-time whistle.
“I think they give everything and I think they show today why they deserve to be here tonight and they made a very difficult game for us really.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho insisted that he always knew his side was going to be in for a tough game.
“I didn’t change my feelings (that) the game was going to be difficult,” he said.
“It was difficult from minute one to the last minute. I still had (Eden) Hazard to make a change but I was worried about the possibility of going to extra-time.
“We needed to do that change so I delay that change, could be a change to break the game definitely but when you have the possibility of extra-time you have to control the situation which he did so I’m very pleased with the players, I was not expecting a different match.”
Mellon was pleased with Shrewsbury’s performance but declared himself “gutted” by the outcome.
He said: “I just said to the players there, if someone would have said that we would have felt gutted and disappointed at the end of a game against Chelsea, we probably would have taken that emotion because it meant we would have been pleased, but we’re gutted because we lost it on little bits of detail.
“Losing a goal so early in the second half and then, when we had good possession of the ball on the far side, we fall and they catch us on the break and that’s why they’re where they are.”
Elsewhere in the Capital One Cup, Dejan Lovren scored a dramatic 95th-minute winner as Liverpool came from behind late on to beat ten-man Swansea 2-1 at Anfield and advance to the quarter-finals.
The visitors had looked destined to repeat their feat in 2012-13 of winning at this ground at the same stage of the competition – en route to claiming the trophy that season – after Marvin Emnes gave them a 65th-minute lead with a fine strike.
But Reds boss Brendan Rodgers on this occasion could celebrate a victory over his former club thanks to an 86th-minute finish from substitute Mario Balotelli and then, after Federico Fernandez’s stoppage-time sending-off for a challenge on Philippe Coutinho, Lovren’s header in the dying seconds – his first Liverpool goal.
West Brom probably thought they had done enough to force extra time when a Tommy Elphick own goal with five minutes to go at Bournemouth levelled the scores at 1-1.
But it was the hosts who progressed thanks to Callum Wilson’s late strike, capping a superb few days for the club after they beat Birmingham City 8-0 in at the weekend.
Elsewhere, Derby County came from 2-0 down to beat Fulham 5-2 and Sheffield United won 2-1 at Milton Keynes Dons.