Chelsea made it into the FA Cup fifth round for the fifth successive season on Saturday evening, as they beat Hull City 2-1 at the KCOM Stadium.
The Blues needed just six minutes to break the deadlock, as Michy Batshuayi scored his first goal since October. Mason Mount's blocked shot fell into the path of the Belgian, who poked it home with the aid of a slight deflection to give the visitors the lead early on.
From then on Chelsea were in control, and could have easily doubled their lead where it not for two strong saves from George Long. The Hull goalkeeper first smothered Ross Barkley's chipped effort well, before denying Mason Mount a first goal in almost two months.
Hull were a resurgent side after the restart, having a very dominant opening 15 minutes. Jarrod Bowen had a golden opportunity for the Tigers, but his shot rose just over the bar as they came closer and closer to levelling it up.
The hosts' momentum was soon brought to an abrupt end, when Chelsea doubled their advantage just after the hour mark. Ross Barkley floated his free kick over to the back post, and Fikayo Tomori was there to power his header down and into the back of the net.
Hull earned a huge lifeline and got right back into the game, thanks to substitute Kamil Grosicki. The Polishman sent his free kick into the direction of the Chelsea wall, but a big deflection off Mateo Kovacic diverted the ball past Willy Caballero to open up the game once again.
Starting XI: Long (7); McKenzie (6), Burke (6), Tafazolli (6), Lichaj (7); Da Silva (6), Kane (6); Bowen (7*), Honeyman (6), Wilks (6); Eaves (6).
Substitutes: Grosicki (7), Magennis (6), Samuelsen (6).
STAR MAN - Jarrod Bowen was a threat all evening to the Chelsea defence, with his quick feet and excellent dribbling the key to Hull's performance. Bowen was superb and showed his quality at the KCOM Stadium, justifying why he has been so sought after in the January transfer window.
Jarrod Bowen passing his Premier League audition with flying colours. What an absolute gem of a player.— IG (@CatenaccioIG) January 25, 2020
Not surprised to see Jarrod Bowen linked to a few different clubs.— EiF (@EiFSoccer) January 25, 2020
Admittedly haven’t watched much of him this season but been really impressed tonight.
Jarrod Bowen is honestly a level ahead of his teammates, hope a PL club puts a bid for him ASAP, that's his level.— C (@AFC_Carys) January 25, 2020
Key Talking Point
After underwhelming results in the league, Chelsea needed the win for confidence as much as their progress FA Cup. They got off to the perfect start with Batshuayi's goal, a deflection helping take the ball into the net but a deserved lead nonetheless for Frank Lampard's Chelsea.
The Blues dominated for the rest of the half, but it was the same story of not being able to take their chances. The lack of cutting edge allowed the hosts back into the game, and while Tomori's header gave them breathing space once again, they were put under pressure for the final 15 minutes after Grosicki's goal.
Despite the late consolation, Chelsea held on and saw out an important victory. Concerns about finishing chances and wrapping up results remain present, but Lampard's side got the job done and booked their place in the FA Cup fifth round in a strong performance.
Starting XI: Caballero (6); Azpilicueta (7), Zouma (6), Tomori (7), Alonso (6); Mount (6), Barkley (6), Kovacic (7*); Pedro (6), Batshuayi (7), Hudson-Odoi (6).
Substitutes: Willian (6), Gilmour (6), Lamptey (N/A).
STAR MAN - While he slightly faltered after the break, Mateo Kovacic was once again key in midfield. The Croatian was flawless in the first half with his range of impressive passing evident, and his hard-working display in the middle of the pitch was vital in Chelsea's victory.
Kovacic vs Hull City (1st Half):— Nouman (@nomifooty) January 25, 2020
Passing Accuracy: 87.7%
Big Chances Created: 1 [Mount should've scored]
Long Balls Completed: 4/7
Dribbling Success: 100%
Ground Duels Won: 2/3
2 Clearances, 1 Interception, 1 Tackle
Fouls Won: 1
Looking really solid in that deep lying role pic.twitter.com/UYT07KCj88
Kovacic is streets ahead of any other Chelsea player.— Will (@willreyner) January 25, 2020
It’s so nice to see that World Class talent we saw at Inter all those years ago actually being World Class now.
Kovacic is simply a superb midfielder. Comfortably our best player this season. Hopefully now people see what he offers that Drinkwater doesn’t — Lucian Dro (@DroPil0T) January 25, 2020
Hull have back to back home games up next, which will make it three games in a week at the KCOM Stadium. The Tigers first host Huddersfield in a midweek tie on Tuesday, before facing high-flying Brentford on 1 February.
Chelsea have a huge test next week in the Premier League, when they travel to Leicester City next Saturday. The Blues are back at Stamford Bridge for another exciting clash, welcoming Manchester United to west London on 17 February.