Chelsea see off battling Preston
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Preston came out on fire early on in the game and Richard Cresswell gave them a quick-fire lead before Chelsea's deadly duo of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen put them in front before Mikael Forssell's late strike sealed the win.
David Moyes's Preston can be proud of their performance against Chelsea's stars but the difference in finishing, and the saves of Carlo Cudicini, eventually proved the difference although the 3-1 scoreline flattered the home side a little.
Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri was forced to shuffle his pack for the game and started with Emmanuel Petit at centre half and Mario Stanic filling in at right back, and they were visibly at odds at the start of the game.
The visitors had some good early pressure and they took advantage of Chelsea's defensive frailties in only the ninth minute when former Sheffield Wednesday and Leicester City striker Richard Cresswell nodded them in front.
A Lee Cartwright free kick found Creswell totally unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box and he made no mistake with the header to score his tenth goal of the season and put North End 1-0 up.
Chelsea were undone again just three minutes later when Cartwright broke free on the right and delivered a curling cross into the box that found Jonathan Macken just four yards out but he failed to connect properly although Cudicini still had to make a great save to keep it out.
With Preston looking fully in charge, the hosts then burst into life in the 15th minute when Gianfranco Zola sent Hasselbaink racing clear from halfway, and he outpaced Chris Lucketti to stride into the box before pulling the ball back for his strike partner Gudjohnsen to slot into the empty net.
The deadly duo struck again in the 25th minute when the Dutchman and Icelandic international combined with a superb one-two to leave Hasselbaink the chance to fire the ball past Teuvo Moilanen in typical fashion to clock up his 50th goal for the club.
Chelsea produced another superb piece of football just after the half hour when Hasselbaink and Sam Dalla Bona combined to set up Frank Lampard who turned his man in the box but had his effort well saved by Moilanen.
The second half had a far quieter start than the first and the majority of the game was played in the middle of the park, with Chelsea having the best of the possession.
David Moyes made the change just after the hour when he brought on record signing David Healy as his side went in search of the equaliser.
Chelsea had the next chance, however, when Hasselbaink fired in a 30-yard free kick that Moilanen had to get down well to palm away from danger.
Ranieri was forced into yet another change minutes later when Frenchman Marcel Desailly left the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury to be replaced by Jody Morris, leaving Stanic to occupy his third position of the game by joining Petit at centre half.
Preston had plenty of possession, but could not put pressure on Chelsea's makeshift backline despite Moyes's men putting in the effort and determination.
The visitors could have snatched an equaliser in the final minute when Macken leapt above Celestine Babayaro to head towards goal only for Cudicini to produce a good reflex save to tip the ball over the bar.
North End keeper Moilanen came racing forward for the corner as they desperately searched for an FA Cup lifeline.
The corner was cleared, however, and the ball was knocked up to Forssell who chested the ball down and ran in towards goal expertly before firing his shot past his countryman Moilanen who had just made it back into his goal to seal the game at 3-1.
The goal kept up Forssell's excellent record of scoring in every round of the competition this season as he continues to impress despite being used largely as a substitute.
Ranieri's side progress to the quarter-finals despite the enforced changes, with the only worry being the seriousness of Desially's injury that, with Jon Terry's broken toe, could severely affect their season.
Moyes will take his side back to Deepdale buoyed by a gutsy performance that saw them match Chelsea in many departments with just the class of the Premiership side's finishing proving to be the difference.
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