Chelsea thrashed an inexperienced Manchester City to book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals with an away tie against Everton.
The Blues, who were unchanged from their mid-week loss in Paris, breezed past a noticeably-weakened City side which featured six teenagers.
Despite them battling bravely in the first half, talent told in the second, and the gulf in class allowed five different Chelsea players to score their five goals, and they could have had more had the woodwork not denied them twice and Oscar not missed a penalty.
Six teenagers — none English — were in Pellegrini’s starting line-up which provoked strong reaction from both camps. Chelsea fans were gleefully muttering away whilst City fans were livid their side were disrespecting the FA Cup, with ultimately very limited chance of winning either the Premier League or Champions League.
The degree of City’s inexperienced showed through their squad numbers, with the sum of their 11 amounting to nearly 450. But one big contributor to that, City’s No.51 Faupala, who had the game’s first chance after just two minutes. A couple of nutmegs on Ivanovic and Cahill later brought a sturdy but routine stop by Courtois.
Hiddink has won all five of his FA Cup matches with Chelsea and it was clear he wanted to maintain his 100% winning record with a full-strength squad. Fabregas continued to pull the strings and his partnership with Pedro was shaping up to be something spectacular, with Pedro hitting the post after beating Caballero.
Costa had a penalty appeal whilst Hazard managed to get a shot away. Fabregas then had a chance to have a shot of his own when given ample time to turn and shoot.
The goal would surely come and it did through another Fabregas lob. He found Hazard who looped the ball goalward and Costa ghosted in between the City backline to nod home, with Caballero not as imposing as Hart.
If Costa nodded in, his defensive colleagues nodded off. Faupala was, just 94 seconds later, to get his name on the score-sheet when he latched onto Iheanacho’s pass, having beaten Courtois and Azpilicueta failed to clear it properly.
Pedro should have scored when Fabregas found him late in the half but was denied by a fantastic reaction save by Caballero, but the waiting would not go on long into the second half.
Cahill cleared his lines and set off Willian, who countered effectively and after receiving a one-two off Hazard, the Brazilian shot with pinpoint accuracy to restore Chelsea’s lead.
Two became three just five minutes later when another Fabregas lob to the back-post was not fully cleared by Fernando and Cahill just put his foot through it to rifle home a third.
Faupala should have pulled one back when he and Iheanacho were free to face Courtois but the ball got stuck under the Frenchman’s feet.
Hazard was too quick for Demichelis when the Belgian looked to shoot and that brought the game’s first yellow card. It gave Willian a presentable chance from 25 yards out, but the Brazilian waived his usual duties to Hazard, who probably needed the goals more.
Thankfully he took it then, with Pedro the fake shield in the wall who ducked and allowed Hazard to score the game’s fourth, and only his second of the season.
Chelsea’s vulnerability at the back was ever present though as Iheanacho nearly back-heeled a City second, but the game was to be Chelsea’s.
Oscar entered the fray and his first meaningful involvement was to first shoot wide and secondly to miss a penalty. Traore won a flimsy penalty off Demichelis and was desperate to take it but seniority prevailed but competence did not, with Oscar stuttering and hitting at an easy height for Caballero.
Traore did get a chance of his own from a Hazard pass but could only hit the post. He did score the game’s sixth with an excellent looping header as the icing was added to the cake.
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Man of the Match
CESC FABREHAS: Pulled the strings, finding Pedro all day and playing the key part in two goals. Reads the game very well and, if allowed to pick his head up, can spray the passes expertly, and the Manchester City youngsters allowed that all evening. Chelsea need this competition this season more than their counter-parts. 8/10
Hiddink was understandably pleased: “If you win 5-1 last week, and now today against Man City, it is a boost for the confidence of the players. Manchester City made changes but that doesn’t make it easy because the youngsters that came in were dangerous. It was key that we started well in the second half, got an early second and third goal.”
Pellegrini continued to try to justify his weak team selection: “We were forced to select that team, we couldn’t play another day — if we play on Saturday, it is better for us — and didn’t have any more fit players — we have six players injured and cannot take any more risks. We had a very good 45 minutes but after the five minutes after half time we threw away the game.”