Chelsea find their clinical edge to draw sting from the Bees
Demba Ba: won a scruffy aerial challenge to help present Juan Mata with the opening goal yesterday
Chelsea 4 Brentford 0:Rafael Benitez has lamented Chelsea’s lack of clinical edge yet he could enjoy one of those days when its presence brought reassurance, together with safe passage, in this FA Cup fourth-round replay.
Brentford of League One were relentlessly game opponents but Chelsea’s class stretched them before breaking them, Juan Mata’s fizzing, long-range drive shortly after the interval serving as the prompt for a second-half glut. The scoreline was harsh on Brentford, but Chelsea deserved the reward of a fifth-round trip to Middlesbrough. Their Cup defence is alive.
Frank Lampard staged his bid for the headlines with the third, arriving late to volley home Mata’s cross to bring up his 199th goal in the club’s colours. Roman Abramovich, the owner, was present to hear the crowd demand he be given the new contract he wants to keep him at Stamford Bridge next season. Inexorably Lampard is reeling in Bobby Tambling, who has Chelsea’s all-time scoring record with 202.
Cavorting in celebration
Oscar had flicked in the second and Chelsea’s afternoon was completed by the sight of John Terry cavorting in celebration after heading the fourth, from the Brazilian’s deep cross. It was only Terry’s third start since November.
For Brentford there was pride, even if it was tempered by the harshness of the result.
As they had done in the original tie, when Fernando Torres’ only goal of the calendar year had bailed out Chelsea, Uwe Rosler’s team impressed with the intensity of their pressing and their collective refusal to bow to reputations. But the manager admitted it was always going to be a struggle to maintain these levels and a mental lapse proved to be the beginning of the end.
The first goal was of tremendous importance and Brentford thought they had scored it. The eye-catching Adam Forshaw was fouled on the edge of the Chelsea area by David Luiz in the 39th minute and the referee, Neil Swarbrick, whistled immediately for the free-kick, which would come to nothing. Had he waited a couple of seconds, he would have seen Marcello Trotta ram the ball into the net.
Chelsea, though, did get the goal and it was nothing short of a disaster for Brentford who, Rosler claimed, had started to make the hosts “run out of ideas”. Mata’s finish was magnificent; he took a touch before blasting low and left-footed from 25 yards into a bottom corner. But the build-up had hardly been the product of Chelsea’s Premier League quality. Petr Cech hoofed the ball from back to front and Demba Ba won a scruffy aerial challenge to work it to Mata.
It was a fiercely contested tie, with Rosler noting how Benitez had selected a “physical” team. Some of the challenges overstepped the mark, with Gary Cahill horribly late on Jonathan Douglas in the first half and David Luiz guilty of a sickening barge on Jake Reeves in the 86th minute, which left the Brentford sub concussed.
Chelsea had to work for space and they came to call the tune, although initially there was frustration as they spurned a fistful of first-half chances. The best of them fell to Oscar after slick build-up work and a final ball from Mata but, slipping as he shot, the Brazilian hit the outside of the post.
After Mata’s breakthrough the pain arrived for Brentford. Eden Hazard fed the overlapping Branko Ivanovic, after Toumani Diagouraga’s loose pass and Oscar’s deflected back-heel wriggled underneath Simon Moore and beat Harlee Dean on the line. Then came Lampard and Terry, the old one-two. For Benitez there was beauty in the routine.