Chelsea eased into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup as they saw off League One side Scunthorpe 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Goals from Diego Costa and Rueben Loftus-Cheek helped Guus Hiddink’s side through, and the Dutchman will be having ambitions of another FA Cup win, after he led the team to a memorable cup triumph back in 2009.
Hiddink was pretty clear with his intentions from the start here, as he named a very strong team for this one. Asmir Begovic came in for Thibaut Courtois in goal, while Gary Cahill replaced John Terry. Cesc Fabregas and Ramires started in midfield, but aside from that we saw the team who thrashed Crystal Palace a week earlier. Eden Hazard once again missed out, but on recent evidence he might not have started here anyway.
The strong line up made a pretty quick impact, with the Blues in front after less than 15 minutes. Branislav Ivanovic swung in a cross from the right hand side, and somehow Costa managed to get to it while under pressure from two opposition defenders. The Spaniard got the slightest touch on the ball to direct it goal-wards, and that opened the scoring.
At that point, it looked like the champions would go on to run riot, given just how much talent they had on the field. But Scunthorpe – to their credit – came back at them, probably full of confidence after the upset Bradford pulled off here last season. The League One side got on the ball and asked plenty of questions of the Blues, while Luke Daniels made saves to ensure that they stayed in the game.
Half time saw the introduction of one of the young stars that you expect to see in cup games. Loftus-Cheek came on to replace Oscar at the break, giving the midfielder 45 minutes to prove his worth. It was his first display under Guus Hiddink, and the Dutchman seemed to be impressed by his display here.
Loftus-Cheek was playing his 11th game for the Blues, but he had been yet to score, until this game. After a long patient build up, Cesar Azpilicueta got the ball on the left hand side, and this time it was the left-back providing the assist, a low ball into the box that the England Under-21 international Loftus-Cheek buried to double the lead.
One big difference of the Hiddink reign to Mourinho’s was shown here, with the full-backs bombing forward much more now. Both Ivanovic and Azpilicueta are great attacking talents, and they were shackled to an extent when the Portuguese was in charge.
That win has Chelsea into the draw for the fourth round and it’s likely that Hiddink will make this competition his top priority in the coming weeks. First, though, he has to focus on seeing off West Brom on Wednesday night, with the team back at the Bridge for some Premier League action.
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