Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink was relieved his side avoided the mental pitfalls of playing lower league opposition in the FA Cup after a superb display saw them beat MK Dons 5-1.
A hat-trick from Oscar backed by goals from Eden Hazard – from the penalty spot – and Bertrand Traore wrapped up a comfortable win for the Blues, even if they did endure a minor scare when Darren Potter equalised for the hosts.
Hiddink is very much familiar with the vagaries of the FA Cup, having won it in his previous spell at Stamford Bridge, and the Dutchman gave credit to the concentration levels on show from his players, especially when the Dons had looked like staging a comeback.
“We are delighted,” Hiddink said on BBC One. “Because if you play this game it’s always difficult.
“If you play the big games, the big teams, the concentration is always high automatically, but these games you have to be well prepared mentally.
“We played well in the first half but we weren’t finishing it off in the first 20 minutes. Then they got the equaliser but we reacted very well.”
Hazard got on the scoresheet just before the hour mark, his first goal for the club this season.
It appeared that captain John Terry intervened to ensure Hazard, rather than Oscar, took the spot-kick and the Belgian sent David Martin the wrong way before celebrating in front of the visiting support by kissing the Chelsea badge.
Hiddink said: “Of course we have the hierarchy of penalties, Oscar is the first one to take.
“But he gave it to Eden because everyone knows he hasn’t scored for a long time due to injuries and not having scored.”
Oscar’s hat-trick had included some good finishing and Hiddink was glad to see his star man playing with the kind of joy that had helped Chelsea to the Premier League title last season.
“He’s playing with a smile on his face and I like very much when they know their obligations, what to do,” Hiddink said.
“And defensively they know their job and they do it. If they can play by nature, they can play and it’s good to see.”