SINCLAIR SENT PACKING
FA Cup holders Chelsea comfortably advanced to the quarter finals of this season’s competition, beating League One side Huddersfield 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. The victory was a great morale booster, with the upcoming Carling Cup Final and the returns of our ACN representatives plus John Terry and Frank Lampard, giving Avram Grant plenty of reasons to smile.
Carlo Cudicini was given the job of keeping goal for the night, with Tal Ben-Haim starting alongside the skipper Terry. Wayne Bridge and Paulo Ferreira were the preferred fullbacks, whilst Steve Sidwell bagged himself a rare start in midfield. Claudio Pizarro was the central striker, Salomon Kalou and Scott Sinclair chosen as a new wing combination.
For Huddersfield, the man of the moment was Frank Sinclair. The former Chelsea fans favourite played 90 minutes at right back for the visitors and captained the side at the ripe age of 37.
Steve Sidwell fired an early shot just wide of Glennon’s goal as Chelsea came out firing. The Huddersfield keeper was beaten by Chelsea’s next attempt at goal, by Scott Sinclair, but left back Robbie William was on hand to make a brilliant clearance off the line. The opportunity came after a great piece of work by Salomon Kalou out wide.
On 17 minutes, Chelsea took the lead, and it was Frank Lampard’s 100th goal in Chelsea blue. Sinclair taking on Williams attempted to cross, his ball in deflecting along the turf straight into the path of the onrushing Lampard, the England midfielder tucking the ball into the bottom corner in trademark style. He celebrated by drawing the number ‘100’ in the air as he ran towards the adoring fans.
Clarke had a headed opportunity from a Huddersfield corner. Cudicini punched clear the initial attempt, only for the defender to acrobatically hook an effort towards goal, where John Terry was alert to make the clearance.
In stoppage time of the first half, the visitors grabbed an unlikely equaliser. A beautiful ball over the top was met by the perfectly timed run of Collins, who calmly controlled before expertly finishing past the stranded Cudicini. At half time, the Huddersfield fans were daring to dream of another 2008 FA Cup giant killing act.
Not long into the second half and Chelsea had the ball in the back of the net, only for the linesman to rule the effort out for offside. Kalou tucked the ball away after Terry’s blocked shot fell to him a yard or so out. He was clearly offside.
Four minutes later, Chelsea took the lead again. Mikel’s clever pass found Kalou, who released Lampard. The surging run of the England man took him into space in the box, and after Glennon saved his initial effort, Lampard slid in to tuck the ball home. 101 goals and counting for our eighth member of the 100 club.
Pizarro had a fortuitous break in the box, somehow contriving to beat six players without ever looking like he had control of the ball. After his eventual shot was saved by Glennon, the impressive Sinclair tucked the rebound away, only to be ruled out by the linesman’s flag again.
However, on 71 minutes, Chelsea wrapped the game up, through Salomon Kalou. Composed play from Mikel saw him release Lampard in midfield, the England maestro in turn releasing Kalou down the left. Cleverly, the Ivorian cut inside and showed great poise to finish past the hapless Glennon.
Andriy Shevchenko made his comeback, finishing the final 15 minutes of the game, as a substitute for the battling Sidwell. In the final minute, Robbie Williams curled a left footed free kick just wide, although Cudicini had it covered.
Chelsea’s march continues on all four fronts, our trip to Greece on Tuesday followed by the Carling Cup Final at Wembley. With a near full squad to choose from, the boys in blue are starting to find the legs to finish off the marathon season.
Chelsea (4-3-3) Cudicini; Ferreira, Ben-Haim, Terry (c), Bridge; Mikel, Sidwell (Shevchenko 75), Lampard (Essien 81); Sinclair, Pizarro (Anelka 85), Kalou.
Huddersfield (4-4-2) Glennon; Sinclair (c), Clarke, Page, Williams; Collins, Berrett (Schofield 85), Holdworth, Brandon; Jevons (Kamara 73), Beckett (Booth 81).
Referee Mark Clattenburg.