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Chelsea 5-0 Watford


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scoreboard.jpgChelsea produced a vibrant display to defeat Championship side Watford in the FA Cup.

The current cup holders - 2-1 victors over Everton in May - were ahead inside just five minutes when Daniel Sturridge poked home from close range for his first Chelsea goal. The Blues had a comfortable 3-0 lead with just twenty-one minutes played, as a John Eustace own goal and a fortuitous third through Florent Malouda gave Chelsea a commanding half-time lead.

There was still time for Frank Lampard to belt in from 25 yards for Chelsea's fourth, and a superb display was rounded off with a deserved second goal for the lively Sturridge.

Chelsea were excellent throughout and at their attacking best, even though Watford boss Malkay Mackay had attempted to stifle the Blues' midfield by electing for a defensive 4-5-1 formation. However the hosts' superior quality shone through as they cruised to a comfortable victory - despite being without without the injured Nicolas Anelka and the unavailable Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.

Carlo Ancelotti made a number of changes as the Blues' formation shifted to an attacking 4-3-3, with Malouda and Joe Cole playing either side of Sturridge. Juliano Belletti joined Lampard and Yuri Zhirkov in midfield, and Henrique Hilario replaced Petr Cech in goal.

It was no surprise that Watford were cautious in the opening exchanges as Chelsea surged forward right from the off, and it was even less of a shock that the hosts took an early lead.

Frank Lampard's corner was flicked on by Alex, who found Chelsea captain John Terry. The defender volleyed into the six yard box, where Sturridge was on hand to poke home from close range. It was the young striker's first goal for club, and the goal filled both the striker and his team with confidence.

Then Malouda slammed in a vicious cross that Joe Cole fed back in to the danger area, and under pressure from Lampard, Eustace could only slice the ball into his own goal as he attempted to clear off the line.


Frank Lampard hammers Chelsea into a four-goal lead.

Things went from bad to worse in front of the visiting supporters in the Shed End as the Blues extended their lead. Zhirkov's effort from the edge of the area took a slight touch from Malouda before bouncing past the stranded Scott Loach.

And though the clock read only 21 minutes, Chelsea had the game won. There were further attempts on goal from Lampard, Belletti, Zhirkov, Sturridge and Terry before half time, although all were unsuccessful.

Chelsea seemed to step off the gas as the second half began with the victory already assured - a luxury that Manchester United never had as they were knocked out by Leeds United at Old Trafford. The Blues were firmly in control and when Lampard thundered home a terrific fourth, it was a question of how many the Watford defence would concede.

Four soon became five as Sturridge capped off an excellent team move when the instrumental Zhirkov and the tireless Ashley Cole combined to set up the young striker, who calmly stroked the ball home.

Sturridge then made way for Fabio Borini, and Gael Kakuta came on for Ashley Cole, allowing Zhirkov to move back into defence. There was also polite applause from the Chelsea faithful as Blues' youth product John Harley came on as a substitute for Watford.

And Harley struck the post with Hilario beaten as Watford looked for a mere consolation strike, but the effort was a mere glimmer of a positive - the visitors were well and truly beaten.

A comfortable, clinical and comprehensive victory is exactly what Ancelotti ordered - and young Daniel Sturridge will now be brimming with confidence as the Blues prepare for a visit to Hull.


Chelsea: Hilario; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry ©, A Cole (Kakuta 73); Lampard, Belletti (Matic 64), Zhirkov; J Cole, Malouda; Sturridge (Borini 69)

Watford: Loach; Hodson, Mariappa, Demerit ©, Doyley; Cleverley, Eustace, Severin (Jenkins 46), Lansbury; Cowie (Harley 79), Graham (Henderson 79)

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 18 - Yuri Zhirkov

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