Chelsea enjoyed a stress-free evening in the FA Cup as they comfortably beat Middlesbrough 2-0 to advance to the semi-finals.
Goals from Romelu Lukaku and birthday boy Hakim Ziyech gave the visitors a straight win at the Riverside Stadium.
For the hosts, it was unfortunately the end of the road and the chance to get an upset hat-trick proved to be too difficult a task.
In earlier rounds, Chris Wilder’s side shocked Manchester United and Tottenham, beating United on penalties, before securing an impressive 1-0 win over Spurs.
While they in no way embarrassed themselves in front of a packed crowd, Chelsea’s class was telling, especially with their goals.
The first, a fine counterattack after Hakim Ziyech played a ball down the line to Mason Mount who then produced a low ball into the box from six yards out for Romelu Lukaku to exploit.
There was no doubting the quality of the goal, but commenting on the game for talkSPORT, Trevor Sinclair thinks Boro’s high defensive line didn’t help.
“That’s exactly what can happen, it was a high line from Middlesbrough, a great ball from Mount and it’s a tap for Lukaku,” he said.
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Even though the Belgian hasn’t had the best of seasons since becoming Chelsea record holder, he found solace in the cup.
According to Squawka, that’s now 16 goals in 23 FA Cup appearances and his last two goals for Chelsea have both come in this competition.
The goal was certainly a true reflection of the game, and as the visitors’ dominance grew, so did the score line.
It was 2-0 with just over half an hour of play when Ziyech received the best birthday present one could ask for by smashing the ball into the bottom left corner from 20 yards out.
Again, Mount was heavily involved, but Sinclair believes a Boro player should have prevented him from having so much space in midfield.
“Look at Mason Mount’s position, everyone was working hard but there were no red players near him,” Sinclair explained.
The strike was pure class from the Moroccan, however, and one that gave Joe Lumley no chance.
At 2-0, the tie was effectively over, and the match was nearly over a few minutes later when Lukaku’s shot was cleared from the line by Anfernee Dijksteel.
For much of the second half the hosts were unable to come back in the draw and a Folarin Balogun shot summed up Boro’s play as he sent his effort into the stands.
However, Chelsea – given the turbulence they are facing at the moment – will be happy to have won another game.
They will be in the pot for the semi-finals and will be hoping to get their hands on the elusive trophy after losing the previous two finals.
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