Chelsea produced the sort of comfortable display that you would have expected at the beginning of the evening as the four times winners cruised into round four. Swindon were no match from the beginning as Torres and Ramires added the goals to a performance which demonstrated the 49 league places between the two.
The match began at a sluggish pace which was possibly down in part to the 10 changes that Mourinho made from the Fulham match on Saturday with the exiled Mata and Luiz the most notable inclusions. We had flashes of brilliance from both and following Mourinho’s public criticism, it did seem as though Mata was putting his foot in to challenges a bit more without the ball, and it was our back to back player of the year that claimed the assist for the first goal just before the half hour. The ball broke for Ramires in the middle and he beautifully slipped in Mata who forced a decent save from Foderingham leaving Torres with a simple finish.
Prior to that Torres brought a fine save out of the Swindon number one when put through one on one after Chelsea had created a few other promising openings. Six minutes later and Ramires’ half hour cameo saw him on the score sheet after what was the move of the night. Torres shifted gloriously away from two Swindon men thirty yards from goal and put Ramires through for a first time dink over the keeper and in off the near post. The away side were in full flow at this point and you could see more coming as Chelsea enjoyed their football and were rarely threatened at the other end as the first half drew to a close.
Despite the fact that Chelsea fielded what was essentially their second string, Ramires, who has barely missed a minute since the start of the season did not reappaear for the second half. The Brazilian himself had been brought on in the tenth minute for Van Ginkel, who twisted his knee early on. Terry appeared for the second half as Luiz moved into midfield. The bench’s vague description of Ramires’ injury at the time led me to think that they had actually brought him off early with the job already being done. Couple this with the possibility that Mourinho might have been a little annoyed at Luiz’s last man, back heel attempt before the break.
Despite the high tempo work off the ball early doors, the second half was predominantly Swindon’s as they created a few opportunities that eventually led to a disallowed goal from N’Guessan. Replays showed that it was a tight but correct call from the assistant. Despite the better second half showing from the home side, Chelsea had the better opportunities as Torres really could and should have finished the evening with a hat-trick. He breezed through the Town defence before eventually laying off to Willian who was wasteful, as he was for much of the game. More fine work late in the game from Torres teed up substitute number three Demba Ba who came very close to opening his account for the season with a curling effort that whipped past the outside of the far post.
A solid, unspectacular victory for Chelsea with a couple of injury concerns going into the big match at the lane this Saturday lunchtime.