Chelsea‘s hopes of ending a miserable season at Wembley are alive and well after the Blues beat a much-changed Manchester City 5-1 in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth round at Stamford Bridge.
Willian, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and substitute Bertrand Traore scored second-half goals to extend Guus Hiddink’s 100 per cent record in the competition to six games.
The Dutchman, who led the Blues to the 2009 FA Cup during his first spell as caretaker boss, has now lost just one of 13 games in all competitions since succeeding Jose Mourinho in December.
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.
Crystal Palace ended Tottenham‘s hopes of the treble with an unexpected 1-0 win at White Hart Lane that took them into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
An unlikely goal on a rare start for Martin Kelly, coupled with a vastly-improved overall performance, proved enough to secure a victory that will lift the mood that had been settling at Palace and inflict a rare disappointing note on Spurs so-far promising season.
With Tottenham also challenging for the Premier League title and Europa League, manager Mauricio Pochettino chose to again rotate his team from that which had drawn 1-1 at Fiorentina on Thursday.
West Ham‘s talisman Dimitri Payet was the inspiration as they secured a place in their first FA Cup quarter-final for five years with a comfortable 5-1 win at Blackburn.
Rovers, who played the last 35 minutes with 10 men after Chris Taylor’s sending-off, had led through free-scoring right-back Ben Marshall but never looked like threatening a shock like the one a year ago when they dumped out Premier League Stoke 4-1.
A lot has changed personnel-wise since then for the Championship side – Rudy Gestede, Jordan Rhodes and Josh King have all moved on – and Victor Moses’ first goal since September 19 was followed by an exquisite Payet free-kick and two second-half goals for Emmanuel Emenike before Payet fittingly finished things off with a brilliant individual effort.
Taylor’s dismissal for a second yellow card was balanced out by a straight red shown to Cheikhou Kouyate 15 minutes from time for denying Blackburn left-back Adam Henley a goalscoring opportunity but it had no impact in altering the momentum.
The draw for the FA Cup quarter-finals
Reading v Crystal Palace
Everton v Chelsea
Arsenal or Hull v Watford
Shrewsbury or Manchester United v West Ham
Ties to be played March 11-14