Double-chasing Chelsea down Brentford in FA Cup


London (AFP) – Premier League leaders Chelsea remained on course for a domestic double as they eased into the last 16 of the FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win at home to second-tier Brentford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Blues, eight points clear at the summit of English football, were rarely tested by their fellow west London side, who advanced with goals from Willian, Pedro, Branislav Ivanovic and Michy Batshuayi.

If this was a final Chelsea appearance for Ivanovic, who has been linked with a transfer window move, the Serbia defender gave the Stamford Bridge faithful something to remember him by after coming on as a substitute for the final half hour of this match.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, ahead of Tuesday’s league match away to Liverpool, made changes to his side.

Yet even with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa among those rested, Chelsea still boasted a strong-enough team to see off a mid-table Championship side with ease.

The clubs last met in 2013, with Chelsea needing a replay at the same stage of the competition to see off Brentford.

A repeat never looked likely on Saturday.

Chelsea had scored in their last 40 FA Cup ties, stretching back to 2000, and continued that trend through Willian’s 14th-minute free-kick.

Lasse Vibe was adjusted to have upended Pedro and Brazilian winger Wilian stepped up to curl home past Brentford goalkeeper Dan Bentley.

Brentford last defeated Chelsea in 1939 and things soon got worse for the visitors.

Batshuayi, making a rare start, was given too much space to find Pedro, who took one touch before firing underneath Bentley in the 21st minute.

– Bentley saves –

Brentford could not cope with Chelsea’s pace and movement and Batshuayi should have extended the home side’s lead on the half hour.

The Belgium striker, who has struggled to make an impact since joining for £33 million ($41 million, 39 million euros) in pre-season, collected John Terry’s knockdown and had two attempts only for Bentley to scramble the ball away just inches from his own goal-line.

Bentley, not for the first time, came to Brentford’s rescue by pushing Ruben Lotfus Cheek’s low shot wide as the visitors struggled to contain the dominant hosts.

Vibe then found himself crowded out after beating Terry to the bouncing ball.

It was a rare scare for the home side and normal service was almost resumed after Willian danced his way past two defenders before shooting just over the top in the 52nd minute.

Another strong run from Willian saw him feed Loftus-Cheek only for the midfielder’s chip to bounce back off the crossbar.

The game was opening up with Brentford finally finding their feet and Nico Yennaris was denied by goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

But it was Ivanovic, just five minutes after his arrival off the bench, who killed off the contest for good.

After being played in by Pedro, the right-wing back drove low and true past Bentley in the 69th minute.

Ivanovic was involved again when Yoann Barbet tripped the defender for a clear 81st minute penalty dispatched by Batshuayi.

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