FA Cup holders Chelsea advanced to the next round with a drab 1-0 win at home to Queens Park Rangers. An own goal from QPR goalkeeper Lee Camp was enough to give the Blues their passage through.Avram Grant decided to deploy the 4-2-3-1 formation again, with Pizarro playing in behind Kalou. There was a start for Ashley Cole, surprisingly as captain, as well as Steve Sidwell in midfield, whilst Scott Sinclair was chosen on the left. A welcome boost saw Didier Drogba return as a substitute.
The opening to the match was slow, with Chelsea having the lion’s share of possession, but without a shot worthy of the name.
Ferreira bombed forward and had a very half-hearted penalty appeal turned down, as Chelsea continued to dominate, without looking like actually scoring.
On 28 minutes however, Chelsea did manage to take the lead. Pizarro’s shot from the edge of the box was scuffed into the near post, before rebounding into goalkeeper Lee Camp and then into the net. Undoubtedly, the Peruvian claimed the goal, but it was to be marked against the unfortunate goalkeeper’s name.
Wright-Phillips was lively, and shot just wide of the far post towards the end of the half. He then created a chance for Salomon Kalou, guiding a free kick towards the Ivorian forward. However, the chance was spurned as Camp made an easy save.
In the last minute of the first half, a fast counter attack from Chelsea saw Wright-Phillips again involved, as well as Paulo Ferreira. It ended with Sidwell smashing a low drive against the post and out of play.
Gareth Ainsworth was replaced by Patrick Agyemang at half time for QPR. It didn’t affect the run of play at the start of the second half, as a stinging free kick from Alex was beaten away by Camp.
Kieran Lee replaced Akos Buzsaky for the visitors, as they attempted to get back into the tie.
Finally, after 51 minutes, they threatened. A QPR free kick wasn’t properly cleared, but Martin Rowlands failed to take advantage as he blasted over the crossbar. A few minutes later he had another go, but shot straight at Hilario.
Pizarro should have scored a “proper” goal as he fired over on 56 minutes, before Drogba made his much anticipated return, in place of Scott Sinclair. Embarrassingly, Ashley Cole was made to hand the captains armband over to the striker.
Ballack replaced the poor Pizarro on 71 minutes and dictated play with his usual flair and calm until the final whistle. Fitz Hall was booked for a challenge on Wright-Phillips, before the England winger was replaced by Joe Cole.
The final ten minutes passed by without any real action of note, as Chelsea easily, if scrappily, disposed of our London neighbours. The return of Drogba was a real positive, as the Blues gun for a 2nd successive FA Cup.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Hilario; Ferreira, Alex, Ben-Haim, A Cole (c); Mikel, Sidwell; Wright-Phillips (J Cole 78), Pizarro (Ballack 71), Sinclair (Drogba 60); Kalou.
QPR (4-4-2): Camp; Connolly, Stewart, Hall, Barker; Ainsworth (Agyemang ht), Mahon, Rowlands (c), Ephraim (Balanta 65); Buzsaky (Lee 50), Blackstock.
Referee Mike Dean