FA Cup: Chelsea easily defeats Preston thanks to a second-half blitz

Chelsea’s 4-0 victory over Preston at Stamford Bridge on Saturday night propelled them into the FA Cup fourth round.

After a frustrating first half in which they dominated possession of the ball but created few opportunities, Mauricio Pochettino’s team found their rhythm 13 minutes into the second half when Armando Broja headed in Malo Gusto’s cross for his second goal of the year.

 

Preston’s impressive first-half defensive display was soon forgotten as two goals in quick succession followed, one from substitute Thiago Silva, who nodded in from Cole Palmer’s corner, and another when Raheem Sterling hammered a free kick past goalkeeper Freddie Woodman.

 

At the very end, Enzo Fernandez scored from a yard out to give Ryan Lowe’s team, who are currently 14th in the Championship, one last reminder of the distance.

After 17 minutes, Sterling had the first opportunity of the match to shoot toward Woodman’s top corner, but his attempt was blocked at the near post. Shortly after, Mykhailo Mudryk’s lofted pass to Palmer set up a situation where he should have opened the scoring when he beat the Preston offside trap and attempted to lift the ball into the goal, only to see his dinked attempt go inches wide.

For the first thirty minutes, Preston kept Chelsea at bay and created a chance of their own when Milutin Osmajic darted into the box following a headed flick-on and attempted to finish over Djordje Petrovic, although the goalkeeper had little trouble saving it by dropping to his right. Fielding with equal ease was Will Keane’s scuffed shot from the edge of the box.

While a frustrating first half stubbornly failed to spark, Fernandez might have done better when he threw his head at Sterling’s deflected cross. In the end, Woodman made an easy catch.

 

Alfie Gilchrist, an academy graduate, made his debut as a senior starter at right-back in Pochettino’s nearly full-strength lineup. The 20-year-old performed admirably, eager to show off his skills with the ball and his calm defensive presence, but overall, his teammates gave home fans the dullest and least exciting 45 minutes of the season.

 

The majority of Chelsea’s issues under Pochettino have been caused by players who are overly still when in possession of the ball, making it simple for opposing defenders to predict attacking moves.

Palmer and Fernandez once again demonstrated their skill as ball passers in this first half, but the play grew monotonous due to insufficient movement.

That Preston’s error led to the first goal was not shocking at that point. When Keane was detected in possession of the ball inside his own penalty area, Mudryk hustled him off the ball. He knocked it back to Gusto, who, to the audible relief of the home crowd, whipped in a superb cross that was met by Broja’s head. Gusto snuck in ahead of Liam Lindsay to glance it into the far corner.

Chelsea ultimately demonstrated their superior class, and Broja could have—and maybe should have—made it two by meeting Mudryk’s ball in and sending a nearly identical header an inch over Woodman’s crossbar.

 

But a second objective soon materialized. Soon after coming off the bench to a raucous cheer from the crowd, Silva headed in for 2-0, coming up unopposed to thump Palmer’s header in at the near post.

 

After Palmer was brought down on the edge of the box, Sterling scored a wonderful free kick into the top corner to make it three. At the end, a ridiculously drawn-out VAR check verified Fernandez’s fourth goal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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