Nicolas Anelka scored a hat-trick as Chelsea beat Watford 3-1 to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Anelka nets hat-trick in FA Cup triumphChelsea were given a huge fright in their first match since the departure of Luiz Felipe Scolari but a Nicolas Anelka hat-trick helped them bounce back to beat Watford 3-1 and advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. With new manager Guus Hiddink watching on at Vicarage Road, the Blues began brightly but could not break the deadlock in the first half as Nicolas Anelka's effort ricocheted against the post. Chelsea continued to lay siege to the Watford goal at the start of the second half but substitute Tamas Priskin broke away in the 69th minute to open the scoring with a composed finish past Petr Cech. However, Watford were only able to hang onto their advantage for six minutes before Anelka equalised. Anelka fired Chelsea in front moments later and, after Cech pulled off a fine stop to deny Jobi McAnuff, the Frenchman completed his hat-trick in stoppage time.
TentativeThe Blues began tentatively but in the seventh minute Didier Drogba brought a fine save from Scott Loach with a 30-yard half-volley that looked destined for the top corner. Chelsea goalkeeper Cech was largely untroubled until the 11th minute when he was forced to collect a header from Adrian Mariappa. Chelsea's Ashley Cole was booked for a foul on Tommy Smith in the 18th minute but Watford could not punish the Premier League side from the resultant free-kick. Moments later Grzegorz Rasiak held back John Obi Mikel but Frank Lampard's 20-yard free-kick was kept out by Watford's defensive wall. The Championship side were matching Chelsea in every department and when Michael Mancienne hopefully despatched a cross into the Watford penalty area, Loach was quick to see the danger and deal with it. Loach then pulled off another super save from Lampard's free-kick after Drogba had been fouled 25-yards from goal. Drogba was beginning to find space and time among the Watford rearguard and in the 28th minute he tested Loach again with a low 20-yard drive. In the 33rd minute Alex brought down McAnuff on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area but Watford wasted the resultant free-kick when McAnuff's effort was blocked by Mikel. Chelsea almost broke the deadlock in the 35th minute when Drogba set up Anelka. The France striker's shot eluded the outstretched hands of Loach in the Watford goal but the ball bounced off the outside of his right-hand post. It was a real let-off for the home side who had previously restricted Chelsea to long-range efforts. Smith gave Chelsea's defence some anxious moments when he weaved his way into the penalty area but the Watford striker was eventually crowded out.
ThwartedChelsea had the lion's share of possession but apart from Anelka's shot against the post, the home side had managed to hold them at bay quite comfortably. In the 43rd minute, Watford almost went ahead when a cross from McAnuff was met at the far post by Rasiak. But the Watford striker was thwarted by a fine save from Cech who managed to keep the ball out at the second attempt. Watford immediately set about Chelsea from the restart and Will Hoskins brought Cech into action with an angled drive which the goalkeeper held comfortably. Loach denied Drogba again in the 49th minute with a fine save at his near post. Branislav Ivanovic had put the Ivorian clear and his left-foot shot was heading for the net until Loach intervened with a one-handed stop. Moments later, Lampard was a foot wide with a trademark 25-yard drive. The Championship strugglers were now having to defend in numbers as Chelsea increased the tempo. In the 55th minute, Drogba just failed to get on the end of a delightfully chipped cross from Lampard. Mancienne, who had enjoyed a fine debut for Chelsea at right-back, decided to try his luck in the 60th minute but his 20-yard effort was just too high to trouble Loach. In the 62nd minute, Chelsea wasted another chance to go in front. Anelka nodded a long cross from Salomon Kalou back to Drogba but his shot was blocked by Ashley Cole. However, the ball fell into the path of Germany international Michael Ballack who somehow contrived to send the ball high over the crossbar from point-blank range.
StunnedBut Watford stunned Chelsea when substitute Priskin, on for Rasiak in the 65th minute, put them in front four minutes later. The striker ran clear of the visitors' defence to lift the ball over the advancing Cech. But Anelka then sealed an amazing Chelsea comeback with a hat-trick. He levelled the scores in the 75th minute by hooking the ball home from close range. Two minutes later the France international headed home a cross from Cole and then, after Cech had saved superbly from McAnuff in stoppage time, he drove Kalou's pass beyond Loach for his 20th of the season.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||7|
|1||Shots off Target||14|