Chelsea FC are through to the last 16 of the FA Cup. The Blues won 3-1 at Aston Villa thanks in part to a superb free-kick from Enzo Fernandez
The Villans got off to an impressive start in front of their home crowd in the replay that had become necessary after a goalless draw in the first leg at Stamford Bridge. However, Unai Emery’s team, who had brought on Cash for Konsa after the 5-0 win at bottom club Sheffield Wednesday, lacked consistency. McGinn, for example, decided against finishing his own shot (3rd).
Gallagher and Jackson put Chelsea on course
The visitors, who were out to make amends after the 4-2 home defeat to Wolverhampton, were a completely different proposition – and came close with their first chance. Gallagher finished off a combination he had initiated himself to take the lead (11′), which was almost followed by an equalizer. After Badiashile, one of three new players in Mauricio Pochettino’s starting line-up, failed to clear the ball, Bailey’s shot from a turn in the following minute was poorly placed.
Having survived the brief scare, the Londoners got into the game better and better and added to their tally in the 21st minute through Jackson, who found himself in a free position between Diego Carlos and Cash and left Martinez with no chance. A blueprint of sorts for the visitors’ attacking efforts, who repeatedly attacked dangerously down the wings. This was also the case on the half-hour mark, when Palmer, who was deployed in the center of the attack, benefited from a strong individual effort by Madueke, but failed to beat Martinez with his shot (34′).
Enzo Fernandez curls it in
After the changeover, Villa started the first few sequences in a very determined manner, but did not really make the visitors sweat. Instead, the first chance of the second half came from Palmer (51′), before Enzo Fernandez made his grand entrance in the 54th minute. After a debatable foul in the Argentine’s favor, he took the ball himself and curled it wonderfully over the wall into the gable to make it 3-0. An absolute dream goal, which was tantamount to the preliminary decision.
The Villans were left to rue the goal they conceded. It was not until the 70th minute that McGinn showed a sign of life in attack again, when he was blocked by Disasi, but spurred his team on once more with this successful move. This was followed by the first real powerplay from the Birmingham side, who promptly came within inches of scoring through Alex Moreno’s header (76′).
Diaby’s follow-up was just a cosmetic finish
Diaby made it more precise, scoring the Premier League fourth-placed side’s consolation goal with the help of the aluminum (90.+1). Villa then threw everything forward again in four minutes of stoppage time, but Cash’s volley and Iroegbunam’s header were as unsuccessful as a last-ditch Caicedo header at the other end (90.+4).
Aston Villa, who thus fail again in the fourth round of the FA Cup, will host Manchester United in the Premier League next Sunday (5.30pm). After reaching the last 16, Chelsea do not face another challenge until Monday (9pm), when the Blues visit local rivals Crystal Palace.