28th of January 2017

Four-goal win drive Blues to FA Cup fifth round (4-0)

Smooth passage to the fifth round of the FA Cup was achieved at Stamford Bridge with goals from Willian, Pedro, Branislav Ivanovic and Michy Batshuayi putting pay to local rivals.

The Blues were 2-0 up at the break, reward for a first half of near total domination, and although Brentford rallied in the second period, and forced a save from Asmir Begovic, they were powerless to stop Antonio Conte’s men from taking control again and doubling our tally through substitute Ivanovic and, from the penalty spot, Batshuayi who was given the centre-forward role today.

There were just two changes made to the side that started the third-round win over Peterborough. One was Nathan Ake in at left wing-back for his first Chelsea start since October 2014, and he put in a solid display and was moved to the back-three late in the game. Pedro was switched to right wing-back for the start with Ivanovic back on the bench. Cesar Azpilicueta replaced Gary Cahill on the left of the defence three.

After an initially low-key opening to yet another sell-out FA Cup game at the Bridge, the crowd were served up plenty of first-half entertainment.

Cesc Fabregas and Pedro swapped possession more than once on eight minutes but from the sort of position where he has been finding the net in recent times, Pedro fired high into a Shed End full of Brentford supporters. They were noisy then but the volume would diminish as the game went Chelsea’s way.

Pedro was blocked off on the edge of the penalty area soon after his earlier shot and a free-kick resulted, which with no David Luiz to contest the taking, fell to Willian. The location was out on the right when the left is the Brazilian’s stronger side, but you would not have guessed it as he drove the ball into the near-side of the net with Bees keeper Daniel Bentley flailing.

Going into this match, Chelsea had scored in every FA Cup game at the Bridge this millennium and that continues. It had taken only 13 minutes to go ahead.

With 20 minutes played it was 2-0, this time a counter-attack proving the Championship side’s downfall. Batshuayi’s diagonal ball out to the right may have been intended for Ruben Loftus-Cheek but when the young Englishman let it go past, it fell perfectly for Pedro to advance and tuck the ball inside the near post. 2-0.

Fabregas picked out Loftus-Cheek as Chelsea sought to finish this contest before half-time, but after twisting well, the shot was deflected wide. Batshuayi almost scrambled the ball loose from the corner in but it was halted on the line by the back of the prostrate goalkeeper.

Bentley was called into action again on the half-hour, tipping over Loftus-Cheek’s fierce drive.
Such was our control of the game that even the likes of Kurt Zouma were are able join in the attacks well up the pitch, but the offside flag was proving one of our most difficult opponents. That was not a concern when Fabregas shot through a crowd of legs and he was not too far off-target.

With the interval approaching, Loftus-Cheek was again denied by Bentley after careless play from Bees captain Harlee Dean in bringing the ball out of defence. Brentford had their best attempt on the stroke of half-time but Yoann Barbet’s volley was into the arms of the previously unworked Begovic.

Brentford started the second half brightly, with a couple of half openings, but Willian threatened to score a third when turning inside at pace but he fired over the bar.

Challenges were coming harder from the Bees now, maybe the result of a half-time dressing down, and the free-kicks came thick and fast. Maxime Colin was yellow carded for the visitors.

Loftus-Cheek looked certain to score after Willian had waltzed past Josh McEachran and played the ideal pass forward, but his effort skimmed off the top of the bar. Chelsea Academy product McEachran was playing at the base of the Bees midfield.

His colleague Nico Yennaris came the closest yet to a goal back for the Bees but having wormed his way through, he was denied by a close-range block by Begovic.

Loftus-Cheek’s quest for a goal continued but having done plenty right in the approach, his latest shot was deflected wide. There was quarter of the game to play and by now, Ivanovic had come on to play wing-back. It was one of the cheers of the day when he completed a counter-attack and made it 3-0, bashing Pedro’s pass in via a touch from the helpless Bentley.

Loftus-Cheek’s quest for a goal continued but having done plenty right in the approach, his latest shot was deflected wide. There was quarter of the game to play and by now, Ivanovic had come on to play wing-back. It was one of the cheers of the day when he completed a counter-attack and made it 3-0, bashing Pedro’s pass in via a touch from the helpless Bentley.

Diego Costa was one of the substitutes introduced too and it was in receiving the striker’s pass that Ivanovic was fouled from behind by Barbet and a penalty was given. Batshuayi dispatched it for his second goal in this FA Cup campaign.

Jota could have pulled one back for the Bees when he went close with a free-kick but we are into the fifth-round of the FA Cup for the 20th time in 24 years, and will discover who we play when the draw is made at 7.20pm on Monday.

 

- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Begovic; Zouma, Terry (c), Azpilicueta (Kenedy 70) Pedro (Diego Costa 76), Fabregas, Chalobah, Ake; Willian (Ivanovic 64) Batshuayi, Loftus-Cheek.
Unused subs Eduardo, Matic, Moses, Hazard.
Scorers Willian 14, Pedro 20, Ivanovic 70, Batshuayi 81 pen.
Booked Chalobah 89

Brentford (3-5-2): Bentley; Egan, Dean (c), Bjelland; Colin, Yennaris, McEachran (Kerschbaumer 78), Woods, Barbet; Vibe (Jota 64), Sawyers (Hogan 64).
Unused subs Bonham, Field, Clarke, Hofmann.
Booked Colin 55

Referee Michael Oliver
Crowd 41,042

- Match report by chelseafc.com

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