Chelsea 5, Man City 1
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink issued a passionate defence of the FA Cup’s place in English football after watching his team march into the quarter-finals by trouncing a weakened Manchester City on Sunday.
Goals from Diego Costa, Willian, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and youngster Bertrand Traore helped the free-scoring Blues hit five for the third time in six games and set up a last-eight trip to Everton.
The tie is a replay of the 2009 final, in which Hiddink bowed out of a four-month stint as caretaker boss on a high note by leading Chelsea to their fifth FA Cup.
Hiddink, who remains unbeaten in the competition, admitted to sympathising with the likes of City for resting stars but warned that the standing of the oldest cup competition in the game was at risk.
“On one hand the programme for many clubs is rather harsh. On the other hand you can play every three or four days, especially if your squad is broad quality-wise,” he said.
“We mustn’t forget the tradition of English football. I remember watching the FA Cup as a youngster on TV. It’s the temple of football. Winning the FA Cup is beautiful worldwide. We must be careful not to devalue it.”
Injury-hit City boss Manuel Pellegrini said he had been “sensible” to hand five teenagers debuts as he rested key players for Wednesday’s Champions League fixture against Dynamo Kiev.
“I think one of the most important things that we must do here in England is to try to help English teams playing Champions League,” he said. “We cannot take the risk. I have just 13 players at this moment.”
Hazard has been criticised for a season of anaemic displays following his award-winning campaign last year but had a hand in Chelsea’s first three goals and then scored the fourth.
The Belgian crossed for striker Costa to head his ninth goal in 12 games on 36 minutes, although City hit back just seconds later when France Under-18 forward Faupala forced home Kelechi Iheanacho’s low centre.
Willian restored the hosts’ lead just after the restart when he swapped passes with Hazard and swept a low shot past Willy Caballero and Cahill volleyed the third after City failed to clear a Hazard cross.
Hazard notched only his second Chelsea goal this season when his free-kick sent a bamboozled Caballero the wrong way and Traore flicked a looping header in off the far post in the 89th minute.