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Willian takes centre stage as Chelsea turn on style to destroy Hull

first_imgQuite what the scouts dispatched from Barcelona to this corner of south-west London, charged with casting their eyes over next week’s opponents, could hope to glean from this mismatch is anyone’s guess.Chelsea barely broke into a sweat in sweeping aside Hull City to secure their passage into the FA Cup quarter-finals. This was a stroll. Maybe the best the scouting reports might confirm is that the Premier League side will be fresh next week. The hosts could play out this game with two 17-year-olds and a 20-year-old on debut on the pitch, their progress beyond depleted opponents assured from virtually the first attack of the tie. Willian caught the eye with an effervescent display, conjuring glorious finishes with both feet and striking the outside of a post as the final whistle approached.It may be that Antonio Conte, serenaded yet again by the home support, opts to leave out the Brazilian on Tuesday with his preference to play Pedro against his former club. The Spaniard was retired at the interval, perhaps offering an insight into the Italian’s thinking. A trickier decision may be whether Álvaro Morata, formerly of Real Madrid and , first choice in a Chelsea team built for the counterattack, starts ahead of Olivier Giroud against the unbeaten leaders of La Liga. The Frenchman was impressive here, albeit against struggling Championship opposition, and played a part in the hosts’ first three goals before improvising the finish at the near post for the fourth after Emerson Palmieri, another debutant, had barged his way through David Meyler to the byline.Giroud offers an unlikely blend of muscle and subtlety in a front line that, at times of late, has lacked punch.“It is a relief to have scored but I’ll take a lot of pleasure from what we did on the pitch,” said the forward. “Everything is going in the right direction.”Morata, in contrast, was peripheral in his latest cameo off the bench, his chances of making a proper impact blunted by the fact this tie had long since been claimed. He remains understandably rusty after his month-long absence with a back injury. “To have a lot of doubt before Barcelona is important,” said Conte, who will have Marcos Alonso fit to return against the Catalans. “I will go home with many doubts in my mind about which is the best starting XI against Barcelona. Playing against Barcelona is a great challenge for us but also the type of game which must give us great enthusiasm. We must be excited to play against one of the best teams in the world. It won’t be easy, for sure.”It will be far trickier than Hull. This, in truth, was an occasion devoid of the drama so craved by the FA Cup with any chance of an upset probably wrecked by the reality the visitors had been wounded by injury, suspension and the ineligibility of three players – Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori and Michael Hector – who are on loan from the hosts. Nigel Adkins’ side are labouring at 21st in the Championship, a point above the cut-off, with Michael Dawson’s return from groin trouble offset by Jarrob Bowen’s untimely absence with a hamstring injury. If this was the best selection Adkins could put out, they still desperately needed a solid start. Instead they trailed after 106 seconds and were confronting humiliation by the break. Their only positive was emerging unscathed through the damage limitation operation of the second half. Jamie Vardy strike enough for Leicester to see off Sheffield United Share on Twitter match reports Share on Facebook They had never really stood a chance from the moment they trailed, such was the gulf between the sides. Hull’s players had quaked in their boots whenever the Premier League champions poured forward in those opening exchanges, with Willian and Pedro dazzling, Cesc Fàbregas offered time to spray passes gloriously from that quarter-back brief, and Giroud’s every contribution unsettling Hull’s panicked players. The imbalance between the teams was evident from the moment Kevin Stewart turned into trouble inside the second minute to be crowded out and dispossessed by Giroud. Willian duly collected the loose ball and curled a sumptuous shot into the top corner.All the tricks and flicks seemed to pay off thereafter, with Stewart’s display disintegrating and Meyler, a makeshift right-back, ruthlessly exploited whenever Chelsea flew down that flank. It had been Fàbregas’ lofted pass which had split Dawson and Meyler for Pedro, darting in between, to collect and convert with his left foot. Within minutes Stewart had again been outmuscled by Giroud and, with Dawson diving in desperately, Willian wriggled free to curl away a fine shot which kissed the far post and flew in. David Marshall had been slow to react at that attempt but, in truth, he already looked shellshocked. It was to his credit that he brought off saves late on to deny Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta a fifth.By then Hull had fluffed their chance at a consolation, Fàbregas’ trip on Harry Wilson having earned the visitors a penalty. True to wretched form, Meyler seemed distracted by the referee’s request to re-spot the ball and Willian’s mischievous muttering in his ear and his shot was pushed away by Willy Caballero. That rather summed up the entire chastening occasion. “No magic, I’m afraid,” said Adkins in his disappointment. Topics Chelsea 4-0 Hull City and Leicester City 1-0 Sheffield Utd: FA Cup – as it happened Share via Email Share on Pinterestcenter_img FA Cup Share on WhatsApp Read more Chelsea Share on LinkedIn Hull City Share on Messenger Read more Reuse this contentlast_img read more