FA Cup: John Terry sees red on an easy afternoon for Chelsea
League leaders ease past Posh as Terry’s dismissal brings Bridge exit closer
John Terry was sent off during Chelsea’s comfortable 4-1 Cup win over Peterborough. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
Chelsea 4 Peterborough United 1
John Terry was laughing when the referee, Kevin Friend, jogged over to him in the 67th minute. Chelsea were home and hosed against League One Peterborough United on the back of goals from Pedro, Michy Batshuayi and Willian but Terry had just performed one of the most ridiculous last-man challenges in recent memory and he must have known what was coming.
Perhaps, the smiles were out of embarrassment or, simply, the ludicrous nature of the situation. Kurt Zouma, playing his first game since February of last year, had been unable to cut out a through-ball and when Lee Angol, the Peterborough striker, dropped his shoulder and darted to his left, he found that Terry had thrown himself down at his feet. It was like a rugby tackle without the arms.
Angol was taken out and, despite Terry’s matey protestations, Friend had to send him off. When the red card came out, the 36-year-old’s face fell. This had been Terry’s first appearance since November 5th and only his eighth of the season. He did not see it ending prematurely like this and, in the heat of the moment, it was possible to see the end of the line at Stamford Bridge for one of the club’s great warriors.
Terry’s contract is up in the summer and there has been no talk of a renewal. He cannot get into the team that Antonio Conte has taken to the top of the Premier League table and, at the very least, Terry faces an anxious wait over the coming months to see what the club have planned for him. Time is ticking.
Terry’s dismissal was the headline detail of an FA Cup stroll for Chelsea. Peterborough gave their 6,000 travelling fans something to bellow about when Michael Smith’s low cross was touched on by Angol and Tom Nichols swept past Asmir Begovic. It was a moment that everybody connected to the club will cherish for some time.
But Pedro soon restored Chelsea’s three-goal advantage and the final margin of victory could have been more handsome, such was the home team’s dominance. They created not only fistful of chances but fistful of clear ones.
Pedro was one of only two survivors in Conte’s starting line-up from the loss at Tottenham Hotspur last Wednesday and his eye was in at the outset. His first goal was beautifully taken, fizzed into the far top corner with his right foot, and with space at a premium, after Luke McGee, the on-loan Tottenham goalkeeper, had beaten out Nathaniel Chalobah’s shot.
Chelsea had broken at pace, and Willian and Ruben Loftus-Cheek had combined to tee up Cesc Fabregas, whose initial effort had been blocked. When the ball found its way to Pedro on the second phase of the move, Peterborough might have thought that they had him boxed off. He had other ideas and it was a shuddering blow to the visitors.
The tempo was high and there was no shortage of commitment. The tackles flew in, with Peterborough keen to knock their more illustrious opponents from their stride or, at least, warn them that they would not have all the time they wanted in possession. The captain, Chris Forrester, laid down an early marker, jumping in on Fabregas, for which he was booked. Fabregas collected a yellow card when he took his revenge on Tom Nichols.
Chelsea were comfortable at the interval, thanks to Batshuayi’s goal, and their lead might have been greater. Gary Cahill had hit the post on six minutes with an extravagant back-heeled flick from a corner that almost caught out McGee while Pedro rattled the crossbar after he seemed to have done all of the hard work. Loftus-Cheek had got the ball back from a blocked shot and he squared for Pedro, who jinked inside only to lift his shot from close-range up against the woodwork.
Batshuayi’s goal followed smart work from Willian and a four-on-two Chelsea break, which was not something that the Peterborough manager, Grant McCann, might have envisaged as early as the 44th minute. McCann, though, had promised to commit men forward. Branislav Ivanovic crossed and when Loftus-Cheek set the ball up, Batshuayi drilled a low shot into the corner.
Peterborough’s big moment had come in the eighth minute, following Marcus Maddison’s cross from the right. Chelsea’s new-look defence had neglected to pick up Angol but, from three yards out, he could only stab at Begovic, who saved. The visitors also threatened when Ryan Tafazolli glanced wide from a 13th minute corner.
Chelsea had other chances in the first-half through Terry, Batshuayi and Willian and it became a question of the eventual margin of their victory, rather than too much else.
Loftus-Cheek shot wide when gloriously placed early in the second half before Pedro took Fabregas’s pass and set up Willian. He cut inside and beat McGee into his far corner. Chalobah had also gone close before the Terry red card. Pedro’s second goal followed an exchange with Batshuayi and a precision low shot from the edge of the area and it would have been more had Batshuayi not missed late on.