There was some respite for a troubled Chelsea Football Club and its players, after interim manager Roberto Di Matteo presided over a 2-0 win in a Fifth Round replay of an FA Cup game against Birmingham City, on Tuesday evening.
Chelsea went into the game having fired manager Andre Villas-Boas on the back of a dismal run of form and amid reports of owner Roman Abramovich threatening to get rid of underperforming players.
Caretaker manager Di Matteo left heavyweights Lampard, Essien and Drogba on the bench... perhaps as a signal of his position. Daniel Sturridge was also benched for the game, with fellow youngster Ryan Bertrand finding his way into the starting line-up. Chelsea lined up in an otherwise predictable shape, with Torres, Kalou and Mata supported by Meireles, Ramires and Obi Mikel.
This was Di Matteo's first match in charge and the first game in what could, for some time now, be called the post-AVB era.
The two sides started meekly and it was not until Mata (who remains Chelsea's stand-out player of the season), broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute. However, this was not before the hosts for the night created a few problems for the Blues. Nikola Zigic, in particular, was active all through and created chances for Wade Elliot and Nathan Redmond. Zigic tested Cech himself as well, when his header from a Jordan Mutch cross had Cech worrying for a few seconds.
Torres' first chance came 30 minutes into the game but he shot wide. The second half saw a stronger and more determined Chelsea and they were rewarded with the opener from Mata. He was helped by Ramires' run down the right and a deflection off Kalou. Portuguese midfielder Meireles then killed the game just short off the hour mark, when his 25-yard rocket found the target.
Chelsea should have made it three or even four goals on the night. Highlights included misses from Sturridge and a botched penalty from Mata.
The Blues, however, made no mistake about the score or their defensive work and will now head home content that the re-building of the team and its results has gotten off to a good start.
Chelsea will next play Leicester City, in the quarter-finals, on 18 March. The game will be at Stamford Bridge.
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