Sublime Oscar free kick knocks Stoke out of cup
26th January 2014 3.30pm
Attendance: 40, 845
A majestic Oscar free kick was enough for Chelsea to defeat a lacklustre Stoke and to advance to the fifth round of the F.A. Cup.
Oscar`s free kick from 25-yards was good enough to bamboozle Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and show that life goes on without Juan Mata.
The seven-time F.A. Cup winners will now travel to the Etihad Stadium to face last season`s runners-up Manchester City.
Both teams made a number of changes for the cup tie with Chelsea bringing in Mark Schwarzer, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Andre Schurlle, along with giving Nemanja Matic his second full debut at the club. Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Willian and Ramires all made way.
Stoke welcomed back Asmir Begovic after recovering from a broken finger, whilst Wilson Palacios, Stephen Ireland and Marko Arnautovic also came into Mark Hughes` starting eleven. Butland, Whelan, Assaidi and Adam made way.
The Potters were always on the back foot in the game and were fortunate to only come away with a one goal defeat after a tame display.
Chelsea should have won by a bigger margin but were wasteful. Frank Lampard who was the guiltiest, missed three golden opportunities to double the Blues lead, whilst Jose Mourniho`s men were denied by the woodwork twice.
The returning Begovic managed to pull off some outstanding saves to keep his side in with a shout.
The Potters did manage to muster a couple chances in the game; one at the end of each half.
Stephen Ireland should have done better after some good work in the midfield by Arnautovic and N`Zonzi, but the Irishmen could only fire wide from a narrow angle.
Walters also found an opening at the end of the match but could only fire over after Crouch had managed to battle and develop some space for the former Ipswich man.
The Potters were poor throughout, lacking urgency and any fight. The travelling 700 Stoke fans must have been disappointed with their teams display and lack of action to shout about.
From an early stage of the match, it was apparent that Hughes` had wrote off the competition and his tactics were damage limitation, even though he did move Walters upfront with Crouch late on after the introduction of Oussama Assaidi.