Birmingham 0-2 Chelsea: Di Matteo earns debut win as Chelsea steady the ship
CHELSEA launched the post Andre Villas-Boas era in winning fashion as second-half goals from Juan Mata and Raul Meireles secured victory over Birmingham in an FA Cup fifth round replay at St Andrews.
After a goalless first half, caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo saw Mata break the deadlock eight minutes after the restart.
Then a superb 59th minute strike from Raul Meireles doubled Chelsea’s lead to secure a home quarter-final tie with Leicester. They could even afford to see a Mata penalty saved by City keeper Colin Doyle.
Di Matteo left Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Daniel Sturridge out of his starting line-up although skipper John Terry was a surprise substitute after his recent knee operation.
There was little to choose between the sides in the opening period when Nikola Zigic posed problems for Chelsea. But the visitors stepped up a gear after the interval and only poor finishing prevented them from adding to their tally as injury-ravaged City ran out of steam.
Petr Cech produced a superb save to keep his side on level terms after 39 minutes. Zigic’s glancing header from a Jordon Mutch cross had Cech back-pedalling and he finger-tipped his effort over the bar at full stretch.
Fernando Torres had his first opportunity on the stroke of half-time after a quick turn but he dragged his shot across the face of goal. After 54 minutes Mata broke the deadlock. Ramires made good ground down the right before sending in a cross which was challenged for by Kalou. The ball broke invitingly for Mata who poked it past Doyle into the corner of the net.
A superb strike from Meireles doubled Chelsea’s lead after 59 minutes. Ramires teed up the midfielder and his 25-yard strike flew past Doyle into the top corner of the net.
Torres won his side a 67th minute penalty after he was brought down by Guirane N’Daw but Doyle repeated his penalty save from Mata of the first tie at Stamford Bridge.