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Aston Villa logo
FA Cup | Fourth Round Replays
Feb 7, 2024 at 8pm UK
Villa Park
Chelsea logo

Aston Villa
1 - 3
Chelsea

Diaby (90+1')
Carlos (38')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Gallagher (11'), Jackson (21'), Fernandez (54')
Fernandez (55'), Petrovic (76')

Clinical Chelsea cruise past Aston Villa in FA Cup replay

Clinical Chelsea cruise past Aston Villa in FA Cup replay
© Reuters
Chelsea are through to the fifth round of the FA Cup thanks to a dominant 3-1 fourth-round replay win over Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Chelsea produced one of their finest performances of the Mauricio Pochettino era to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa in their fourth-round replay at Villa Park.

The permeable Blues travelled to the Lions' West Midlands fortress as clear underdogs following dismal Premier League results, but Pochettino's men took the game by the scruff of the neck in the first half, where Conor Gallagher and Nicolas Jackson were both on target.

In contrast, Unai Emery's men were not at the races whatsoever, and a wonderful Enzo Fernandez free kick put the tie to bed before Moussa Diaby conjured up an injury-time consolation for the beaten hosts, as Chelsea set up a home tie with Leeds United in round five.

Owing to Ezri Konsa's absence with a knee injury, Matty Cash - Villa's third-round hero against Middlesbrough - earned a recall to the Lions defence, while Jackson, Noni Madueke and Benoit Badiashile were all reintroduced into the Chelsea XI.

Pressure had ramped up on Pochettino on account of Chelsea suffering six defeats from their last seven away games in all tournaments, but in true FA Cup fashion, the form book was ripped up in the opening exchanges.

Chelsea's Conor Gallagher celebrates scoring their first goal on February 6, 2024© Reuters

Eleven minutes into the Villa Park showdown, Gallagher threaded a neat pass out to Jackson on the left, and the Senegal striker's cutback into the penalty area fell at the feet of Madueke, who was surrounded by claret shirts.

However, with his back to goal, the winger put the ball on a plate for Gallagher, who directed a crisp side-footed strike into the top corner of the net to give Pochettino's men an unexpected - but fully deserved - lead.

Perhaps fuelled by their recent poor showings, Pochettino's men were putting on a slick, high-pressing performance in front of a jubilant away end, who were in terrific voice after Gallagher broke the deadlock and soon had a second goal to cheer.

After attacking down the left to good effect for the opening goal, Malo Gusto was given ample space and time to deliver the perfect cross from the right in the 21st minute, and the well-positioned Jackson met the Frenchman's delivery with a powerful header into the bottom corner.

Villa's previous home mojo was completely eluding them, and Cole Palmer came close to making it three for Chelsea in the 34th minute, cutting inside and unleashing a fierce bottom-corner bound strike, but Emiliano Martinez was equal to it.

A glum Emery refrained from making any half-time alterations, although he may have regretted not making a change in the engine room, as Youri Tielemans gave away a free kick in dangerous territory early in the second half.

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino reacts on February 7, 2024© Reuters

Fernandez stepped up, aimed for the top corner and found it with an exquisite effort that Martinez could only palm higher into the net, and hours after stories emerged that he was allegedly open to leaving Chelsea, the Argentinian dropped the biggest hint that he wanted to stay.

Making his way to the boisterous Chelsea contingent, Fernandez stripped off his shirt before pointing to his name and the Villa Park turf, and a customary yellow card would not dampen the World Cup winner's spirits.

With the result seemingly a foregone conclusion, Villa belatedly came to life in the final third but wasted a few promising set-piece situations, while Axel Disasi also produced an excellent block to deny John McGinn inside the box in the 70th minute.

A full-back to full-back cross very nearly paid dividends for the hosts with 76 minutes gone, as Matty Cash floated a cross to Alex Moreno at the back post, but the Spaniard's header just cleared the crossbar and rippled the roof of the net.

Villa Park began to empty out as the clock ticked down, but those that stayed were able to let out muted cheers in the first minute of injury time, when a tame Diaby shot struck both posts before trickling over the line to wipe out the visitors' clean sheet.

Hoping that Wednesday's result is the one that turns a corner, Chelsea return to Premier League action away to Crystal Palace on Monday night, one day after Villa seek to bounce back at home to Manchester United.

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Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa in August 2023.
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