Chelsea escaped a cup upset yesterday after going a goal down to Watford at Vicarage Road.
Tamas Priskin had put Watford ahead with 20 minutes remaining; however a Nicolas Anelka hat-trick assured the Blues of a place in the next round.
Chelsea were out to impress as Guus Hiddink watched on from the stands and it was they that created the best chances and had the majority of the possession during the first half.
Salamon Kalou and Didier Drogba both went close early on, however for all their possession Chelsea were unable to breach the Watford back-line who, it was clear to see, were carrying out their game plan with excellence. The Championship strugglers, more often than not, had at least ten players behind the ball and were prepared to defend and try and catch Ray Wilkins’s side out on the break.
Watford’s best chance of the first half was scrambled away by Petr Cech after Grzegorz Rasiak had headed towards goal from a tight angle.
Chelsea upped it a gear at the start of the second half and should have gone a goal ahead when Michael Ballack fired over from point-blank range. There were a few other chances for Chelsea, notably Didier Drogba’s effort on goal which was well saved by England U21 goalkeeper Scott Loach.
The first goal went against the run of play though, as substitute Tamas Priskin latched on to a fine pass from Lloyd Doyley after springing the offside trap. He was then cool under pressure as he chipped the ball over the Czech Republic shot-stopper to send the whole of Vicarage Road into euphoria.
Dreams of a cup upset for Watford supporters didn’t last long however as Nicolas Anelka scored an acrobatic bicycle kick to bring the game level just six minutes later.
The second goal saw Anelka head in an Ashley Cole cross. The third, to compound Watford’s undeserved misery, came after Jobi McAnuff was one-on-one with Cech, only to fire straight at him. Chelsea went straight down the other end and Anelka produced another outstanding finish.
Watford: Loach, Hoyte, Mariappa, DeMerit, Doyley, Smith, Jenkins, Lee Williamson (Cowie 67), McAnuff, Rasiak (Priskin 66), Hoskins (O’Toole 76).
Subs Not Used: Lee, Sadler, Harley, Parkes.
Goals: Priskin 69.
Chelsea: Cech, Mancienne, Alex, Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Ballack (Belletti 83), Mikel (Stoch 73), Kalou, Anelka, Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Di Santo, Quaresma, Ferreira, Deco.
Booked: Ashley Cole.
Goals: Anelka 75, 77, 90.
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Man of the Match: Lloyd Doyley.
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