Birmingham, (UK);- Chelsea edged past Aston Villa in the fourth-round replay on Wednesday night to book their place in round 5 of the 2024 Emirates FA Cup, thanks to a brilliant and dominant performance from Mauricio Pochettino boys.
After a 0-0 draw in the 1st leg at Stamford Bridge, Villa welcomed the blues for a replay with both managers naming a strong starting lineup underlining the importance of this competition towards each club’s bid for silverware in 2024.
Pochettino shuffled the pack for the Blues with Thiago Silva and Raheem Sterling benched as Benoit Badiashile and Noni Madueke replaced them in the starting XI.
Chelsea were off to a flying start as they looked to put their previous losses in the past and their persistent efforts were rewarded in the 11th minute when Noni Madueke repaid his manager’s faith, setting up Conor Gallagher to give Chelsea the lead and notch his first goal of the season in all competitions.
Chelsea didn’t put their foot off the gas and 10 minutes later, their efforts were rewarded yet again when an excellent cross from Malo Gusto found the head of Nicolas Jackson to nod it home past Emiliano Martinez
The Blues could have extended their lead in the 34th minute after a solo run by Madueke from his own half, only for Cole Palmer’s effort to be punched away by the Villa keeper.
Aston Villa’s captain, John McGinn almost pulled 1 back for the hosts after Ollie Watkins pounced on a loose ball but McGinn couldn’t make better use of the cutback from Watkins, skying his effort.
Chelsea continued to dominate proceedings and almost 10 minutes into the 2nd half, Enzo Fernandez put the game to bed after bending a brilliant free-kick past his Argentine counterpart, Martinez following a foul in which he (Enzo) was brought down just outside the box.
Despite late pressure from the home side, Chelsea was able to hold on and continued to show their defensive solidity to keep Villa at bay. However, in the closing minutes, the home side pulled one back through substitute Moussa Diaby, who scored from just outside the box with a low shot to the bottom-left corner.
Chelsea will now face Leeds United at Stamford Bridge in round 5 of the FA Cup after the latter beat Plymouth Argyle 4-1 on Tuesday in the other replay of England’s oldest cup competition.
The win was timely to ease the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino who has been under pressure after losing his last two games in the league amid reports and speculations in the media of him being dismissed as the Chelsea head coach.
Chelsea will look to continue this impressive display when they visit Selhurst Park for a London derby next Monday night as they lock horns with Crystal Palace in a premier league clash.
In some positive news for Villa, Unai Emery will look to welcome back his Spanish centre-back, Pau Torres (named on the bench) who has been out injured since the beginning of the year as they look to get back to winning ways when they welcome Manchester United at Villa Park.
The mammoth Premier League fixture takes place this weekend, on Sunday at 7.30 pm (EAT) as both teams push their bid for a top 4 finish in the English top-flight division.
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