Chelsea swept aside a courageous Walsall side as the Blues were too hot to handle for their League One opponents.
The Blues, who have started the Premier League poorly but the Champions League with a win, could bank on another competition to raise spirits as Ramires, Remy, Kenedy and Pedro secured a route into the next round of the Capital One Cup.
Chelsea have always taken this competition seriously, winning the League Cup three times in the last decade and five times in total, so it was no surprise to see a strong line-up. Terry and Falcao were known to start but this was backed up with the likes of Cahill, Begovic and Remy to complete a star-studded line-up. One might have hoped to see Djilobodji, Blackman and Traore respectively, but Mourinho did use youth through Kenedy, Loftus-Cheek and Rahman.
The gulf in quality was evident from the off. Chelsea started in bright fashion and conjured up the game’s first goal inside the opening 10 minutes. Kenedy had acres of space and time to pick out the oncoming Ramires, who had the simplest of headers.
It was Falcao’s night to shine given Costa’s retrospective three-match ban which has left Chelsea incensed, but the Columbian failed to take advantage, despite showing signs of promise. The former Manchester United ace was found really well from a lobbed ball, spun with purpose but could not get the shot away. Ruben Loftus-Cheek did, but was blocked.
Another striker who did take advantage, though, was Loic Remy. It was he who scored the game’s next goal four minutes before half-time, latching onto a ball from Ramires.
Would it be a walk in the park for the Blues? Not quite, as Walsall got back into the game before the half-time whistle blew.
Milan Lalkovic, once rumoured to be on his way to Chelsea stardom, strukc a sweet free-kick against his former side. Begovic saw it late and parried to James O’Connor, who tapped home.
If Mourinho does not often give youth a chance, then any youth he does give a chance must take it, and this was the case with Loftus-Cheek and Kenedy for Chelsea’s third.
The Englishman’s first-time through-ball found Kenedy racing in and the Brazilian rifled home to much joy, in the process restoring Chelsea’s two-goal cushion.
The water sprinkler made an unwelcome explosion soon after to signify it was raining goals at Banks’ Stadium in Walsall, but the next notable action was Chelsea being awarded a foul in their favour. Mourinho celebrated the decision more than he celebrated the goals, after another heated run-in no doubt with referees and the FA this week regarding Costa.
Matic and Pedro came on to taste League Cup action for this season, with the latter weaving his way past Walsall’s defence to score the fourth Chelsea goal, but the job was done and attentions turn to a tougher test at St James’ Park on Saturday, with Newcastle desperate to get a win under their belt in the Premier League.
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Man of the Match
RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK: Lewis Baker was touted as the next Chelsea midfield general to come through the ranks but it looks like it may be Loftus-Cheek, who put in a convincing display in the Champions League and now in the League Cup. Whilst Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Walsall are hardly Barcelona, a few more accurate through balls and tackles and Loftus-Cheek has a bright future. 7/10
Mourinho was respectful to Walsall, but not the FA: “It was not easy. I think we showed them they we were not here to make mistakes or throw away a competition. The team played well. I’m happy with the result and the performance of individual players.” On Gabriel’s red card on Costa being rescinded: “Now we know something: that retaliation is allowed now.”