Guus Hiddink was delighted by Chelsea’s FA Cup win over Manchester City, admitting there is “not much left” in the Premier League for his side.
With a Champions League game at Dynamo Kiev to come on Wednesday, City made nine changes and fielded six teenagers – five of them making their full debuts – in Sunday’s 5-1 reserve at Chelsea, who next play Everton in the quarter-finals.
Just 90 seconds after going behind to Diego Costa’s opener, City equalised through David Faupala, one of the five full debutants, and it was 1-1 at half-time before Chelsea’s second-half blitz.
However, Willian and Gary Cahill scored within eight minutes of the restart before Eden Hazard and substitute Bertrand Traore added goals.
Chelsea also had a penalty, but Oscar’s effort was saved by Willy Caballero.
The FA Cup has come under scrutiny which will only continue after Manuel Pellegrini’s selection, but Hiddink insists the competition must be treasured.
“Winning the FA Cup is beautiful. We must be careful not to devalue this,” said Hiddink, who won the competition with Chelsea in 2009, beating Everton in the final.
“I had good memories of that time, but that’s the past. Some might be still in that team and they go for their revenge.
“They gave us a difficult time here (a 3-3 draw in January). We hope to maintain our FA flow a bit when we play them. Not easy.”
With the Blues languishing in 12th place in the Premier League, the FA Cup and Champions League are now Hiddink’s priority.
“There’s not much left in the league for Chelsea, to be honest,” he said.
Hiddink extended his 100 per cent record in the competition to six games and has now lost just one of 13 games in all competitions since succeeding Jose Mourinho in December.
Chelsea appear in good health, with Cesc Fabregas influential and Hazard performing well in a second successive 5-1 home win following the Premier League defeat of Newcastle.
Hiddink, who described the concession of the equaliser as “sloppy”, said: “Of course it’s a boost for the confidence of the players. It’s good to see that.”
Cesc Fabregas added on BBC One after the win: “You can see straight away we are playing better and better and the confidence once you start winning is growing and growing.
“We still have to improve. We have big games coming up.”
The midfielder claimed City’s decision to make wholesale changes did not play into the Blues’ hands, though.
“For us it was negative,” he said. “It puts pressure on us. The pressure was on us, big time.”