Second-half goals from Pedro and Diego Costa ensured we overcame a resilient Wolverhampton Wanderers to book our place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
After a shaky first half in which Wolves went closest to opening the scoring through former Chelsea Academy product George Saville, Pedro scored his 10th goal of the season to break the deadlock in the 64th minute, arriving at the far post to head home a brilliant Willian delivery.
Cesc Fabregas passed up a decent opportunity to double our lead having been teed up by Eden Hazard, but a minute from time Diego Costa sealed the victory with a well-taken strike.
Conte’s team selection followed a similar pattern to the previous two games in this season’s competition, although there were starts for Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. John Terry captained the side and there was also a place in the back three for Nathan Ake. Nathaniel Chalobah and Cesc Fabregas were paired together in midfield once more, as they had been against Brentford and Peterborough. Saville started for Wolves in central midfield.
It was the hosts who started the brighter of the two sides and they should have taken the lead inside the opening five minutes when Kurt Zouma’s header landed at the feet of the unmarked Saville, who crashed a left-footed strike against the foot of the post. Andi Weimann followed up but snatched at his volley which flew over the bar.
That early scare quickly sparked us into life and we began to pass the ball more confidently, particularly in the final third. It wasn’t long before we were presented with a chance but after controlling a trademark Fabregas ball over the top, Willian’s effort was blocked by Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.
Wolves thought they had a legitimate penalty claim when Weimann went down under the challenge of Willian just inside the Chelsea penalty area, and their frustration at not being award the spot kick was compounded when Saville became the first player to be booked for pulling back the Brazilian moments later.
Helder Costa tested Asmir Begovic low down after cutting in from the right-hand side and Moses, whose influence was growing, worked himself into a couple of dangerous positions only to see his crosses blocked.
Ten minutes before half-time Wolves threatened again but Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, positioned right in front of goal, was unable to get a touch on Matt Doherty’s cross from the left.
On the stroke of the break Moses did well once again to get beyond Weimann, his cross was a decent one but Diego Costa, under pressure, could only guide his volley over the top.
Conte opted against making any changes at the break and, as we took the game to the hosts soon after the restart, speculative long-range efforts from both Pedro and Zouma missed the target.
Our best chance of the match up until that point then fell to Diego Costa, who displayed fantastic strength to shrug off the challenge of Danny Batth after collecting an intelligent slide-rule pass from Willian. The striker shifted the ball onto his right foot but from a tight angle crashed his strike into the side netting.
The Chelsea pressure was beginning to mount and the breakthrough came in the 64th minute with Pedro opening the scoring for the second week in succession.
Diego Costa latched onto a Fabregas pass from deep and did well to hold it up while waiting for support. It eventually arrived in the form of Hazard, who in turn found Willian. Pedro had made a brilliant run to steal in at the far post unmarked and as Willian’s cross arrived, the Spaniard expertly flicked his header beyond Ikeme to give us the lead.
Pedro’s goal proved to be his last involvement of note as eight minutes later he was replaced by compatriot Cesar Azpilicueta. The substitute slotted straight into the back three with Ake shifting over to play left wing-back.
Willian then raced onto a clever Fabregas ball before slipping at the decisive moment, allowing Wolves to clear, and the Brazilian was then replaced by N’Golo Kante for the final 10 minutes of the game.
As the contest entered its final five minutes we had another great opportunity to wrap the game up. Hazard burst clear and smartly switched it inside to the advancing Fabregas. The midfielder took the strike first time but dragged it inches wide of the post.
With a minute remaining we all but wrapped the game up when Kante and Fabregas linked up well, and as the ball ran loose Diego Costa swept it home to make it 2-0.
- Match stats:
Chelsea (3-4-3): Begovic; Zouma, Terry (c), Ake; Moses, Fabregas, Chalobah, Pedro (Azpilicueta 72); Willian (Kante 80), Diego Costa, Hazard (Loftus-Cheek 85).
Unused subs: Eduardo, Cahill, Kenedy, Batshuayi.
Scorers Pedro 64, Diego Costa 89
Booked Pedro 48
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-2-3-1): Ikeme; Coady, Batth (c), Hause, Doherty; Price, Saville (Saiss 83); Costa, Edwards, Weimann (Wilson 74); Bodvarsson (Ronan 83).
Unused subs: Burgoyne, Stearman, Evans, Saiss, Rona, Enobakhare
Booked Saville 20, Weimann 32
Referee Jonathan Moss
- Match report by chelseafc.com
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