Chelsea see off Bluebirds
Chelsea overcame a brief scare to defeat Cardiff 4-1 and reach the FA Cup sixth round.
Last Updated: 13/02/10 2:38pm
Chelsea produced a dominant second-half performance to progress to the FA Cup sixth round after a 4-1 victory over Cardiff.
Didier Drogba gave the hosts the perfect start when he ran onto John Obi Mikel's long pass and slotted the ball past David Marshall and into the net.
But Cardiff refused to capitulate and levelled the scores when Chris Burke's cross was turned in by an unmarked Michael Chopra.
The Cup holders retook the lead when Drogba's ball split the Cardiff defence and Michael Ballack was left with a simple finish.
Daniel Sturridge then killed the game off when he pounced on a loose ball in the area and kept his cool in front of goal.
Substitute Salomon Kalou headed in a Paulo Ferreira cross in the dying stages to complete the scoring and finish the tie off in emphatic fashion.
The tie began in nightmare fashion for Cardiff when Mikel's long ball put Drogba in the clear and the Ivory Coast striker ran on to fire past the static Marshall.
It was Drogba's fourth goal in three games since his return from the African Cup of Nations and his 23rd of the season.
Cardiff almost equalised when Peter Whittingham's free-kick was headed towards the top corner by Anthony Gerrard.
But with City ready to celebrate an equaliser, Hilario somehow managed to get across and tip the ball around the post.
In the 25th minute, Drogba was unlucky with an overhead kick from six yards when a cross from Ballack had found him ahead of his marker but fortunately for Marshall in the City goal, Drogba's effort went straight to him.
Chelsea remained in control of the game with Cardiff restricted to rare counter-attacks. But one such move paid off in the 34th minute when they equalised through Chopra.
The Cardiff striker got clear of Alex to head Burke's cross into the net beyond the helpless Hilario, to the delight of the 6,000 travelling City fans.
The equaliser had certainly livened the game up but Chelsea gradually managed to get on top once more.
Sturridge, who has scored in the last two rounds, was a whisker wide with a 25-yard shot in the 43rd minute.
But Chelsea's passing began to go astray as the half wore on and Cardiff were able to end the first half on level terms.
Chelsea replaced Joe Cole with Kalou at half-time and the hosts immediately went back on the attack after the break.
Drogba found Marshall alert when he tried to send a 25-yard free-kick inside the near post just seconds after the restart.
But Chelsea were back in front in the 51st minute when Drogba's pass evaded Mark Kennedy to put Ballack through on goal and the Germany captain kept his cool to volley the ball over Marshall and make it 2-1.
Chelsea defender Alex was unlucky to see a header cleared by the Cardiff rearguard on the hour as the home side pressed for a third goal.
The home side were again in control with Drogba at the heart of all their best moves.
The Ivory Coast striker was unlucky not to get on the end of a through ball from Ferreira while Sturridge shot well wide from 20 yards in the 67th minute.
Chelsea finally got a third in the 69th minute when a scrappy build-up allowed the ball to run loose to Sturridge, who slipped it beyond Marshall for his fourth goal in the competition
Cardiff continued to make sporadic forays into the Chelsea half and Kevin McNaughton was a yard wide with a 20-yard angled drive.
Whittingham then brought a fine save out of Hilario with a low effort from 25 yards as Chelsea rested on their two-goal lead.
However, Kalou made it 4-1 in the 86th minute when he superbly headed home a cross from Ferreira.
The substitute twisted his body in mid-air to send the header over Marshall's reach and into the top corner of the net.
Malouda was way off target in the 90th minute when he tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area - but Chelsea had done enough to go through to the last eight.