Michy Batshuayi scored a brace as Chelsea booked their place in the FA Cup fifth round with a comfortable 3-0 over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.
Marcos Alonso completed the routine victory in style with a superb free-kick in the 72nd minute as Newcastle’s poor record in the FA Cup continued in the capital.
The Magpies have won just four FA Cup ties in the past decade, and Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez will now have to turn his focus towards the Premier League with the side facing Burnley next, but the result is welcome for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
Conte fielded a strong team following his side’s Carabao Cup semi-final exit at the hands of their London rivals Arsenal, with his side strolling into the fifth round draw to end a difficult week on a high for the West London outfit.
Newcastle made the brighter start contesting for every ball and winning most of them by pressing Chelsea right from the start. The first chance went to Newcastle with full-back Massadio Haidara crossing low to Jonjo Shelvey who was denied by Willy Caballero, producing a fine save to deny the former Swansea midfielder.
Chelsea looked short of confidence in the opening half an hour, but Conte’s side took the lead after breaking Newcastle’s high press. Pedro lofted an excellent through-ball to find Eden Hazard on the left, and his low cross was helped on by Alonso for Batshuayi to fire the ball beyond Karl Darlow.
The Blues nearly doubled their lead after Antonio Rudiger shifted past Shelvey and bent a superb left-footed effort just wide of the post, but the hosts nearly gifted Newcastle an equaliser after Danny Drinkwater was caught in possession allowing Shelvey time and space to produce an effort towards goal but it was comfortably saved by Caballero.
Four minutes before half-time, Chelsea doubled their lead as Newcastle lost their defensive discipline that kept them in the game in the opening 30 minutes. Haidara was caught in possession and with Ciaran Clark stranded upfield, Hazard was able to find Batshuayi for his second goal of the game via a heavy deflection off Jamaal Lascelles to loop the ball over a helpless Darlow.
Shelvey forced Caballero into another smart save while there was still time for Chancel Mbemba to stretch the Argentine into another stop from close range before the break.
The second half was far more one-sided than the first as Pedro wasted a glorious chance to extend Chelsea’s lead, blazing the ball over the bar six minutes after half-time while Alonso’s volley tested Darlow from Davide Zappacosta’s deep cross. Alonso was not be denied his seventh goal of another impressive season as the full-back curled the ball beautifully beyond Darlow from a free-kick to round off a comfortable afternoon for the Blues and book their place in Monday’s draw.
Chelsea made four changes with Gary Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, and Batshuayi replacing Cesar Azpilicueta, Victor Moses, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and Willian.
Newcastle made five changes with Mbemba, Haidara, Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, and Henri Saivet replacing Paul Dummett, Jacob Murphy, Christian Atsu, Mohamed Diame, and Joselu.
- Chelsea have reached the fifth round of the FA Cup in 18 of their last 20 seasons, only failing to do so in 2011 and 2015.
- Batshuayi is the third Chelsea player to reach double figures after Alvaro Morata and Hazard have reached 12 each.
- Newcastle have lost six consecutive games at Stamford Bridge in all competitions.
- Alonso has been directly involved in 10 goals this season scoring 7 and assisting 3.
- Alonso has scored three free-kicks in all competitions this season.
- Hazard has been directly involved in nine goals in his last nine games against Newcastle in all competitions scoring 6 and assisting 3.
Man of the Match – Michy Batshuayi
Batshuayi had a quiet start to the game only getting his second touch in the 22nd minute but he sparked into life thereafter. The Belgian has been used sparingly by Conte and he has struggled to impress him. However, he impressed against Brighton before he was dropped for the Arsenal game – but his two goals for Chelsea will add more pressure to Morata.
Batshuayi was denied a hat-trick late on by Darlow but he has now scored more FA Cup goals for Chelsea than any other player under Conte’s reign.
Chelsea host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday night with Newcastle taking on Burnley at St. James’ Park on the same evening.