Chelsea 5-1 Chesterfield: Player ratings as Blues sail into FA Cup fourth round
By Max Parsons
Chelsea got their FA Cup campaign off to a routine start on Saturday evening, avoiding a giant-killing on a day full of shocks with a comfortable 5-1 victory over non-league Chesterfield.
Goals from Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Romelu Lukaku, Andreas Christensen and Hakim Ziyech gave Thomas Tuchel's side the ideal start to a big week in which they face Tottenham in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final tie as well as Manchester City in the Premier League.
The hosts very quickly started with the same zest they showed in their midweek beating of Spurs, notching the opener within the first five minutes following a surging breakaway move. Mateo Kovacic did sensationally to drive upfield with the ball before releasing Ziyech, whose deflected effort in the Chesterfield area fell to a grateful Werner to tap in from two yards out.
The visitors responded well and were visibly up to the occasion, although Chelsea demonstrated their Premier League class with a quickfire double to practically seal the result inside 20 minutes.
Hudson-Odoi picked the ball up on the left wing before making use of the time and space he was afforded to double his side's lead, floating inside and bending a delicious strike into Scott Loach's bottom corner from range. Lukaku then gave the Blues a 3-0 lead just a minute later, turning in Lewis Hall's cut back in acres of space just six yards from goal.
Tuchel's men waited a whole 18 minutes more before making it 4-0, when Christensen picked his spot with an audacious and nonchalant lobbed header into the bottom corner after Hall saw his long-range effort parries by Loach.
The Spireites' sloppiness reared its head once more within ten minutes of the restart, when Calvin Miller clumsily brought Christian Pulisic down in the penalty area. Ziyech stepped up and thrashed the ball home to give his side a five-goal lead.
Chelsea might have celebrated a sixth goal 15 minutes from time, although substitute Kai Havertz's tap in was brought back as Werner strayed offside before teeing up his compatriot.
While the European champions clearly settled for what they'd earned, Chesterfield looked more threatening in the game's latter stages and indeed gave the travelling contingent something to go delirious for with ten minutes remaining.
Kabongo Tshimanga caused problems for Chelsea before seeing his effort well saved by Marcus Bettinelli, only for the rebound to be tapped into an empty net by a buzzing Akwasi Asante.
That consolation strike sent the visiting supporters home happy and only barely spoiled what was otherwise a very commanding and professional performance by Chelsea. The 5-1 victory places Tuchel's side in the next round, while also giving them a boost heading into a crucial week.
Chelsea player ratings
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Marcus Bettinelli (GK) - 6/10 - Unlucky to concede on his Chelsea debut.
Andreas Christensen (CB) - 8/10 - Calm presence at the back and did well to keep his cool as he looped his header over Loach for his side's fourth.
Malang Sarr (CB) - 7/10 - Didn't have all that much to do but did everything right, covering firmly and positioning himself well to deal with long balls throughout.
Lewis Hall (CB) - 8/10 - Showed great composure and class against (occasionally) tricky opposition in an unfamiliar position, standing firm defensively and building play brilliantly - notably surging forward to assist Lukaku's strike.
2. Midfielders & wing-backs
Hakim Ziyech (RWB) - 8/10 - A real menace when arriving into the final third, twisting and turning to provide a continuous threat to the Chesterfield back line. Eventually got a deserved goal via the penalty spot.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) - 8/10 - Absolutely dominant in the centre of the pitch, showing fantastic dynamism and thrust throughout - epitomised by his early driving run through the opposition's lines to create the chance for the opener. Given a rest in the second half.
Saul Niguez (CM) - 7/10 - Roamed around midfield with great authority, distributing possession progressively and breaking up play tenaciously.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (LWB) - 8/10 - Tricky and pacey on the left wing, proving unmanageable for his non-league opposition. Beautiful finish to make it 2-0, deservedly walking off the pitch to a standing ovation.
Christian Pulisic (RW) - 7/10 - Floated around pretty freely and livened up in the second half, winning the penalty that made it 5-0.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) - 7/10 - Great physicality and movement in the final third, holding the ball up and linking things together as well as deservedly grabbing his side's third. Probably should have scored many more before coming off at half time, though.
Timo Werner (LW) - 7/10 - In the right place at the right time to break the deadlock although should have really been a far more threatening presence for the entirety of the Cup tie.
Kai Havertz (ST) - 6/10 - Simply glided effortlessly on the turf, showing the vast difference in quality between the two sides.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (CM) - 7/10 - Combative at the heart of the side, while also carrying the ball forward in typically dynamic, stylish and creative fashion.
Lewis Baker (CB) - 6/10 - Remember him? Still a Chelsea player and was finally given his second Blues appearance eight years after his first. Looked calm, although probably could have done better to prevent the consolation.
Harvey Vale (RW) - 6/10 - Couldn't use his 30-minute cameo to really display the undeniable quality and potential he possesses.
Ross Barkley (CM) - 6/10 - Nearly found the top corner from range just seconds after being introduced, although didn't really do all that much thereafter.