Diego Costa, Willian, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and Bertrand Traore scored as Chelsea beat an inexperienced Manchester City side 5-1 in the FA Cup fifth round at Stamford Bridge.
With the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Dynamo Kiev to come in Ukraine on Wednesday, Manuel Pellegrini argued he had no choice but to play an inexperienced team in west London, with five players making their full debuts.
Willy Cabellero, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Aleksandar Kolarov and Fernando were the only senior members of City’s line-up, but the visitors actually started well, with David Faupala forcing Thibaut Courtois into early action after a good run.
Chelsea gradually began to take control and eventually took the lead in the 36th minute through Costa’s header, but it was a lead which was almost immediately wiped out when Cesar Azpilicueta’s attempted clearance went in off Faupala following a cutback from Kelechi Iheanacho.
However, Willian finished off a flowing counter-attack to put Chelsea back ahead three minutes into the second half, and from that moment it was only ever a matter of how many goals Guus Hiddink’s side would score.
Cahill made it 3-1 with a thumping finish in the 53rd minute, Hazard curled in a free-kick to make it four in the 66th minute and then, after Oscar had seen a penalty saved, his fellow substitute Traore completed the scoring in the 89th minute with a flicked header.
Guus Hiddink has now lost just one of 13 games in all competitions since succeeding Jose Mourinho as Chelsea boss in December. He boasts a 100% record from his six FA Cup games having led the Blues to the 2009 FA Cup during his first spell as caretaker boss.
City have now lost three in a row – prior defeats to Leicester and Tottenham dented their Premier League title bid – ahead of a vital week.
Chelsea, who almost took the lead when Pedro played a one-two with Fabregas and struck the post, went ahead when Fabregas found Hazard, who hooked the ball across for Costa to head in unmarked.
Demichelis and Kolarov should really have known better against a striker who has now scored nine times in 13 games since Mourinho’s departure.
City were level within moments, though, as Manu Garcia, Faupala and Kelechi Iheanacho combined on the right.
Thibaut Courtois and Cesar Azpilicueta failed to deal with Iheanacho’s cross and Faupala pounced. His goal was met with shouts of “who are ya?” from the visiting end and objects hurled from the Chelsea fans.
Pedro was denied by Caballero, who had a few nervy moments, before Chelsea doubled their lead early in the second half.
Willian picked up the ball in his own half, found Hazard, and collected the return before shooting into the far corner.
Next Fernando failed to deal with Hazard’s cross and the ball fell for Cahill, who volleyed through the despairing dive of Caballero.
Hazard then ran at Demichelis, who was booked for a cynical foul. The Belgian curled the resulting free-kick in.
The hapless Demichelis bundled over substitute Traore, but avoided a second yellow card. Oscar’s poor penalty was easily saved by Caballero.
Traore hit the post and Kolarov stung the hands of Courtois before Chelsea scored a fifth.
Oscar’s cross was then flicked on by Traore and his looping header went in to give Chelsea successive 5-1 home wins following the Premier League defeat of Newcastle United.