Chelsea booked their place in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup with a 4-0 stroll over Hull City at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues flew out of the blocks with Willian scoring inside two minutes with a wonderful left-foot shot having won the ball high up the pitch. Pedro Rodriguez was next on the score sheet following a delicious first-time pass from Fabregas. Olivier Giroud's strength and finesse then set up Willian for another sublime finish off the inside of the post. Giroud scored his first for the club after good work from Emerson Palmieri to make it 4-0 at the break.
With the game won and Barcelona on the horizon, Chelsea eased off markedly in the second half and should have conceded when Fabregas brought down Harry Wilson in the penalty area. Willy Caballero's smart save ensured a clean sheet.
With an imminent trio of fixtures featuring Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City, it was imperative to get the game won early. The attitude was impeccable from the senior players, which allowed some youngsters some time to shine on the big stage in the second half.
The understandable reduction in intensity after half-time allowed Hull a few decent chances while there were fewer opportunities created at the other end. The supporters will surely forgive them considering the vast improvement in overall performance witnessed over the past week.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Struck the right balance over team selection with Barcelona in mind. Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta were not even included on the bench to give them ample rest, though the starting lineup still had steel and experience. The fast start allowed Antonio Conte to play Callum Hudson-Odoi for the whole of the second half, while Kyle Scott did himself plenty of favours on his first-team debut.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Willy Caballero, 8 -- Was rarely called upon but was excellent when he was. Saved David Meyler's penalty with aplomb but also showed good positional sense and reactions to keep out Nouha Dicko's shot from a tight angle.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 7 -- Composed and assured, there were no alarms for the Germany international. Even had the confidence to defuse one potentially dangerous situation by back-heeling the ball to Davide Zappacosta.
DF Ethan Ampadu, 8 -- Continues to look made for the top level despite his tender years. Marshalled his defence like an experienced professional and exhibited such consummate reading of the game to make it hard to believe that he is only 17.
DF Gary Cahill, 7 -- Cruised through the game without any real questions being asked of him. Will be disappointed not to have scored after fluffing a chance from six yards out.
MF Davide Zappacosta, 7 -- Has settled into life as a Chelsea player and is looking more at home with each game. Solid in all areas and drew a good save from David Marshall in the latter stages.
MF Emerson Palmieri, 7 -- Was untested defensively on his Chelsea debut, though showed enough going forward to suggest he will be an asset to the squad. Made some excellent runs and created Giroud's goal.
MF Danny Drinkwater, 7 -- Solid if unspectacular from the Englishman who probably wanted to be more involved to catch his manager's eye. Still did the ugly things well though.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 8 -- The maestro's passing radar was in full working order with a series of defence-splitting passes. Pedro was unlucky not to capitalise on one, though there was nothing Hull could do when the two combined to carve them open for the second goal.
FW Pedro Rodriguez, 7 -- After a substantial dip in performance, this was more like the real Pedro. Sharp running, crisp touches and a well-taken goal hinted at a timely return to form.
FW Willian, 9 -- By far the best player on the pitch. The Brazilian toyed with his opponents, scoring two exquisite goals and dazzling the crowd with an array of extraordinary skills. Only the width of the post prevented him from netting a deserved hat trick.
FW Olivier Giroud, 8 -- Having missed one gilt-edged chance, he finally netted his first goal for the club with a clever finish. His terrific leading of the line also had a hand in two other goals and will have provided Conte with much food for thought.
FW, Callum Hudson-Odoi, 7 -- The 17-year-old oozed confidence from the minute he was introduced. Was always happy to take players on but also showed great maturity in knowing when to time a well-executed pass.
MF, Kyle Scott, 7 -- A nervy start to his debut saw him give the ball away cheaply, but after he settled in, he showed his quality with some strong tackling and intelligent distribution.
FW, Alvaro Morata, 6 -- Still looks a little rusty after his recent layoff, though some smart movement suggest his football brain remains sharp.