Chelsea clinched an important victory over Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup today, taking care of business in the Stamford Bridge replay.
A lacklustre first half display bereft of a cutting edge in the final third left a lot to be desired, but a flurry of second half goals prevented the visitors from claiming a massive scalp.
Victor Moses returned from international duty with Nigeria at the African Cup of Nations, whilst John Terry was also deemed fit to start.
Demba Ba was selected up front, a face mask protecting his recently broken nose from further damage.
Oscar served up Chelsea’s first shot of the match from a long way out, Bees keeper Simon Moore dealing with it comfortably.
David Luiz showed off his defensive acumen, wrestling the ball from Clayton Donaldson to prevent a Brentford counter attack from developing.
Adam Forshaw had an effort on goal from the edge of the box after being allowed the space to roam, but it didn’t trouble Petr Cech.
Moses earned a somewhat fortunate free kick early on down the right flank. Mata delivered the set piece from the by-line, but Branislav Ivanovic couldn’t get his header from the far post on target.
Dissent was audible from the stands, the home crowd airing their views on Chelsea’s interim manager with owner Roman Abramovich in attendance.
The Blues’ first corner of the match came to nothing, Ivanovic failing to connect with the delivery and Ba skying a second effort after a cross on the edge of the box from Oscar.
Chelsea squandered another opportunity in the 17th minute, Moses made a surging run into the box from the right wing and delivered the ball into the path of Lampard, who couldn’t get a shot away as he appeared to trip up.
The Blues continued to dominate possession. A rare foray forward from the away side broke down, a long range effort by Forshaw being deflected by a Brentford team-mate inside the box.
Oscar combined with the roaming Mata as Chelsea attacked down the right, the Spaniard delivered a good ball into the box but Ba failed to get onto the end of it.
Oscar soon had a chance to put Chelsea ahead, a fluid attacking move lead to an opportunity to round the keeper, but the Brazilian hit the post as he was closed down rapidly.
Brentford pushed forward through Donaldson, Forshaw had another effort from long range but it fizzled past the post.
David Luiz looked calm and composed in midfield, using his strength and presence to push Brentford players off the ball and break down their play.
Ashley Cole won a dubious free kick on the edge of the penalty box, but Lampard’s delivery was suspect, loosing his footing in the process and sending the ball straight into the path of Donaldson.
Brentford put the ball into the back of the net on the counter, but the referee pulled the play back after Luiz barrelled into Forshaw. The resulting free kick from the edge of the box came to nothing, the five-man wall doing it’s job for Chelsea.
As half time beckoned, a late chance fell to the feet of Frank Lampard inside the box after an Ivanovic cross, but he failed to connect properly and his shot was wayward.
Donaldson burst down the left for Brentford, squaring the ball to Tom Adeyemi who failed to muster a good effort, his shot going well wide.
Chelsea ended the half frustrated, a first half of dominance in terms of possession was mired by a lack of clear cut scoring opportunities. Brentford’s occasional attacks looked about as threatening as anything the Blues could produce.
Rafael Benitez held back from making any changes as the second half kicked off.
David Luiz won an early Chelsea corner in the 47th minute, Bees keeper Simon Moore getting a punch to Mata’s delivery. Oscar got on the end of the rebound and fired a cross into the box, Moore pushing the ball out of the path of Demba Ba to stave off further pressure.
Victor Moses earned another corner for the Blues after a dazzling run down the right flank, but Brentford continued to defend valiantly to deny their Premiership opponents.
Juan Mata finally found a way through in the 53rd minute, notching up his first FA Cup goal of the season. His low shot from the edge of the box got the better of Simon Moore, the ball flying into the right-hand corner of the net.
Brentford manager Uwe Rosler made the first substitution of the game, replacing Marcello Trotta with Harry Forrester.
A poor through ball from Donaldson prevented the Bees from crafting out a chance, as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser.
Eden Hazard was introduced to the game in the 64th minute, replacing the lively looking Victor Moses.
Chelsea scored a second goal in the 67th minute, a sublime back heel from Oscar getting the better of three Brentford defenders inside the box.
Frank Lampard fired home a third in the 70th minute, Juan Mata loosing his man on the left flank and cutting inside to deliver a cross that fell perfectly at the feet of Chelsea’s number 8.
Rafael Benitez brought off Mata and replaced him with Yossi Benayoun in the 75th minute, the decision eliciting boos from some sections of the Stamford Bridge support.
Adam Forshaw, Brentford’s most dangerous player in the first half, was replaced by Sam Saunders soon after.
Frank Lampard earned a standing ovation as he was replaced by Ryan Bertrand in the 80th minute, and John Terry soon nodded home an Oscar cross to put Chelsea ahead by four.
David Luiz picked up a yellow card after barging into Jake Reeves, dazing the Brentford man and forcing him to leave the pitch as a precaution.
Cahill had a chance at the death, but comical defending on the deck by Jonathan Douglas prevented him from getting on the score-sheet.
A solid win in the end for Chelsea, who seal their progression to the fifth round where a trip to face Tony Mowbray’s Middlesborough awaits.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Luiz, Lampard (Bertrand 80), Moses (Hazard 64), Oscar, Mata (Benayoun 75), Ba
Unused Substitutes: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Torres
Scorers: Mata (53), Oscar (67), Lampard (70), Terry (80)