Chelsea 2-0 Scunthorpe United: Ruben Loftus-Cheek breaks his Blues duck
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 10/01/16 11:04pm
Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored his first goal for Chelsea as they beat Scunthorpe United 2-0 in the FA Cup third round at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Premier League champions led at half-time through Diego Costa's strike, his fourth in his last three games and eighth in total this season after a recent return to form in front of goal.
However, Scunthorpe will feel they should have been awarded a penalty early in the second half when Ramires appeared to bring down Kevin van Veen in the box, only for referee Craig Pawson to disagree.
And Chelsea sealed the win midway through the second half when substitute Loftus-Cheek, in his 11th Blues appearance, netted with his first-ever shot on target for the club.
The visitors were able to call upon leading goalscorer Paddy Madden after a recent hamstring problem, but new signing Conor Townsend was cup-tied for the trip to west London.
Interim Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink, meanwhile, fielded a strong-looking line-up following the club's shock home defeat to Bradford City in the fourth round last season.
The Dutchman, did, however, opt to leave captain John Terry on the substitutes' bench, while he was without playmaker Eden Hazard and strikers Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy through injury.
Chelsea did have one fit frontman available to call upon, and it was Costa who settled home nerves by breaking the deadlock after just 13 minutes.
Branislav Ivanovic made good ground down the right wing, before firing in a dangerous cross towards the waiting Costa in the six-yard box, with the ball somehow finding its way into the back of the net off a combination of the Spain international's shins and Scunthorpe left-back Scott Laird.
The home side then moved up a gear as they went in search of a quick second goal to kill off their stubborn opponents, and but for Scunthorpe No 1 Luke Daniels, they would have got it.
The visitors' goalkeeper made two brilliant stops to keep out long-range efforts from first Cesc Fabregas and then Pedro as the former ran the show in the opening 45 minutes.
However, with the scoreline only 1-0 at the break, Scunthorpe - 15th in League One and cheered on by 3,000 visiting fans - knew they were still in with a chance of causing an upset.
And the visitors will point to the moment eight minutes into the second period when Van Veen's driving run into the box was ended by Ramires' tackle from behind, a challenge that replays suggested should have conceded a penalty.
Mr Pawson, though, sided with Chelsea and a quarter of an hour later Scunthorpe found themselves 2-0 down after a lovely debut goal from Loftus-Cheek, on at half-time for Oscar.
The always willing Cesar Azpilicueta sprinted down the left wing before pulling the ball back for the waiting England U21 international, who made no mistake with a crisp side-footed finish past a helpless Daniels just days before his 20th birthday.
That, then, was effectively tie over, although Mark Robins' side did strike the bar with three minutes to go through Jordan Clarke's well-struck effort from the right-hand edge of the area.