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Published: 17:57 | 21/2/16

Chelsea ease past youthful City

Citizens’ quadruple dream ends

Chelsea beat an under-strength Manchester City side 5-1 at Stamford Bridge in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Diego Costa nodded home Eden Hazard’s excellent centre to give Chelsea the lead but City hit back almost immediately when David Faupala blocked Cesar Azpilicueta’s attempted clearance into the net.

The hosts regained the lead early in the second half through Willian, who finished well from Hazard’s clever pass, before Gary Cahill drove in Chelsea’s third goal.

A Hazard free-kick effectively confirmed the home side’s progress prior to Oscar being unable to convert a penalty.

The scoring was completed by Oscar’s fellow substitute, Bertrand Traore, who glanced in an unusual headed goal.

With a Champions League tie against Dynamo Kiev, the League Cup final against Liverpool and a Premier League title push on the horizon for City, Manuel Pellegrini had decided to field a much-weakened side at the Bridge, giving the encounter the feel of a clash between a top-flight outfit and lower-league opposition.

The Citizens’ quadruple dream is over, while Chelsea continue to push for silverware on two fronts in what has otherwise been an incredibly below-par campaign.

The visitors started well on Sunday but Chelsea, having settled, came close to taking the lead when Pedro’s looped finish struck the post following a typically incisive Cesc Fabregas pass.

The home side moved in front with 35 minutes on the clock through Costa’s header from six yards, with Hazard having delivered a superbly precise cross after collecting Fabregas’s lofted pass.

Two minutes later, though, Faupala fed Kelechi Iheanacho and, from the Nigerian's return ball across the face of the goal, managed to block Azpilicueta’s contact into the roof of the net.

Willy Caballero ensured parity at the break by making a fine save from Pedro’s close-range strike following a Fabregas pull-back.

However, the Argentine goalkeeper was unable to prevent Willian from producing a swivelled finish after the Brazilian had combined impressively with Hazard soon after the interval.

Just eight minutes into the second period, Hazard’s low centre popped up ideally off Fernando for Cahill to blast in a low half-volley that Caballero could well have kept out.

The game was effectively up for City with a quarter of the clash remaining, as a poor foul by Martin Demichelis on Hazard allowed the Belgian to whip home a badly defended free-kick from 20 yards.

A nudge by Demichelis on Traore gave Oscar the chance to score from the spot but the midfielder’s weak strike was read and parried by Caballero.

Traore poked an effort onto the post prior to glancing a looping header over Caballero to round off a satisfying day for Guus Hiddink and his improving side.

By David Maher

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