SPORTS

Chelsea 4 – 0 Preston

Armando Broja, Thiago Silva, Raheem Sterling and Enzo Fernandez scored as Chelsea’s second-half thrashing of Preston saw them through in the FA Cup with a 4-0 victory.

The hosts were stifled by their well-organised hosts in a tense opening half at Stamford Bridge, but would have still held a half-time lead had Fernandez and Cole Palmer buried presentable chances.

But they finally found a way through 13 minutes into the second period, when Malo Gusto’s delicious cross was nodded home by Broja.

That soon became the first of a gluttony of three goals in 11 minutes, with Silva adding a second from a corner before Sterling curled home a superb free-kick.

Fernandez’s late fourth was initially disallowed for a narrow offside before a lengthy VAR review eventually awarded him the goal, as Chelsea continued their unbeaten run in domestic cup competitions ahead of their midweek trip to Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup.

How Chelsea cruised past Preston

Preston contained Chelsea well for the opening half-hour and carved an opening of their own, Milutin Osmajic darting into the box from a headed flick-on and attempting a finish across Djordje Petrovic, though it was light work for the
goalkeeper to drop to his right and save. Will Keane’s scuffed shot from the edge of the box was fielded with similar ease.

Fernandez might have done better when he flung his head at Sterling’s deflected cross, in the end an easy catch for Woodman as a frustrating first half stubbornly failed to ignite.

Mauricio Pochettino named a near full-strength side, the only surprise a first senior start at right back for academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist. The 20-year-old acquitted himself well, willing to show for the ball and a composed defensive
presence, but his team-mates on the whole delivered as drab and uninspiring 45 minutes as home supporters have witnessed this season.

Armando Broja celebrates after heading Chelsea into the lead against Preston
Image:
Armando Broja celebrates after heading Chelsea into the lead against Preston

Much of Chelsea’s problem under Pochettino has stemmed from players being too static when in possession, rendering attacking moves easy to anticipate for opposition defenders. Here in the first half, Palmer and Fernandez showed
themselves again to be excellent passers of the ball, but with too little movement the play became predictable.

It was not a surprise then that the opening goal came from a Preston mistake. Keane was caught in possession inside his own penalty area, and the lively Mudryk hounded him off the ball. He knocked it back to Gusto, who whipped in a
superb cross met by the head of Broja, stealing in ahead of Liam Lindsay to glance it into the far corner to the home fans’ audible relief.

Broja might and perhaps ought to have made it two, meeting Mudryk’s ball in and directing a near identical header an inch over Woodman’s crossbar, as Chelsea finally asserted their superior class.

Raheem Sterling fights for the ball with Ben Whiteman
Image:
Raheem Sterling fights for the ball with Ben Whiteman

A second goal though was not long in coming. No sooner had Silva emerged from the bench to an uproarious ovation from around the ground than he headed in for 2-0, rising unchallenged to thump Palmer’s header in at the near post.

Sterling’s goal to make it three was a peach, curling a free-kick into the top corner after Palmer was felled on the edge of the box, before a ludicrously drawn out VAR check confirmed a fourth from Fernandez at the end.

‘A good way to warm up for Middlesbrough’

Analysis from Sky Sports News reporter Gail Davis at Stamford Bridge:

“That was more like it from Chelsea in the second half. Far better in every department.

“Their breakthrough came on 58 minutes Malo Gusto’s cross had a bit of extra zip and Armando Broja was exactly where he needed – his header was excellent. Broja looked full of confidence after and could have had a couple more.

Armando Broja strikes a shot against Preston
Image:
Armando Broja strikes a shot against Preston

“Thiago Silva on as a sub found himself unmarked to score Chelsea’s second. The third came courtesy of some Raheem Sterling magic, the fourth after some lovely build up that Enzo Fernandez turned in and after a painfully long VAR check was able to celebrate.

“It took a while for them to get going but Chelsea looked like they enjoyed themselves. A good way to warm up for Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final first leg against Middlesbrough if you can erase the first 45 minutes from memory.”

What’s next?

Chelsea’s next game is on Tuesday when they travel to Middlesbrough for their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8pm. The Blues then host Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday January 13; kick-off 12.30pm.


Tuesday 9th January 7:00pm


Kick off 8:00pm


Preston’s next outing is at home to Bristol City in the Championship on Saturday; kick-off 3pm. North End then play away to Leeds on Sunday January 21, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 12pm.


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