Chelsea made no mistake of booking their place in the FA Cup fifth round with a convincing 3-0 win over Newcastle United at the first time of asking. The game was labelled as a potential banana skin for Antonio Conte’s side but two goals from Michy Batshuayi and a fabulous Marcos Alonso free-kick put that beyond doubt.
‘Batman’ takes his chance
The Blues started slow and didn’t look dissimilar to the side that lost 2-1 to Arsenal in midweek. However, when the chance came, that man Batshuayi took it and showed his Italian manager that he shouldn’t be a bit-part player. The Belgian striker was left with the extremely easy task of finishing off a slick team move. Pedro lofted a beautifully-weighted pass into the path of Eden Hazard, who held onto the ball until Alonso had broken into the box. The former Bolton wing-back raced into the penalty area and poked a pass towards Batshuayi who gratefully accepted an easy goal with a composed side-footed finish.
Newcastle struggled to get a foothold in the game after this point as the hosts began to grow into the match. Jonjo Shelvey had a couple of decent chances saved by Willy Caballero, the first would have opened the scoring if it wasn’t for the feet of the ex-Man City keeper while the second was much more comfortable for the Argentine after Batshuayi’s first. Before that, Antonio Rudiger was very unfortunate to see his curling shot bend outside the post with his weaker foot.
There were less than five minutes remaining in the first period and Hazard pounced on a lapse in concentration from the Magpies backline to double their lead. Chelsea’s star man threaded a pass into Bathsuayi and his countryman did the rest, courtesy of a huge deflection from Jamaal Lascelles which sent the ball spiralling into the air. These two goals didn’t do him any harm in his bid to stay in West London.
The Blues’ goalkeeper was called into action twice more before the interval, first saving from Shelvey’s drive and then keeping out Chancel Mbemba’s close-range stab at goal. Despite this late panic, they took a two-goal lead into half-time.
Blues Cruise Control
The second-half was all Chelsea after the short reality check before the break. Pedro fired just over from the edge of the box while Alonso’s deflected back-post volley was saved by Karl Darlow. But there was nothing the man between the Newcastle sticks could have done to stop the Spaniard’s next effort. Rafa Benitez’s side conceded a silly free-kick 25-yards out and the whole of Stamford Bridge held their breath as Marcos Alonso stood over it. And to the surprise of very few people in the ground, he sent his bending strike over the wall and into the back of the net to secure the win for Chelsea.
There was still time for some more chances and Davide Zappacosta, who is becoming known for his capabilities from distance, tested Darlow with a dipping left-footed shot. The Italian full-back hit it well and almost caught his opponents out as their keeper had strayed a couple of metres off his line. Batshuayi attempted to complete his hat-trick late on and after beating Henri Saivet with a lovely ball roll, his low shot was well saved. He was then denied once again by Darlow in injury time, the 24-year-old was certainly unlucky not to be taking the match ball home after a man of the match performance.
Chelsea eased into round five and will find out who they will face in Monday night’s draw.