AT STAMFORD BRIDGE
CHELSEA 1 vs STOKE CITY 0
BIRTHDAY boy Jose Mourinho insisted last night his Chelsea side will be underdogs for their heavyweight FA Cup fifth-round clash with all-conquering Manchester City.
A stunning first-half free-kick from Oscar was enough to ensure the Blues’ safe passage to an eye-catching last-16 draw yesterday, which also paired Arsenal with Liverpool.
And, after Mourinho confirmed the £11m signing of Mohamed Salah and saw his team advance, he was insistent that landing arguably the toughest possible tie would not spoil his 51st birthday celebrations, with all the pressure on quadruple-chasing City.
“If we lose, we lose against the best, if we don’t lose it’s fantastic, so it’s a good draw,” he said. “We have nothing to lose they have everything to lose. They are the team that was made to win. They have to feel now the same thing I was feeling here from 2004 to 2007: ‘We are the best team by far, we have to win, if we don’t it’s because we did something wrong’.”
Oscar’s perfectly executed free-kick on 27 minutes proved sufficient on an otherwise frustrating afternoon in front of goal for Chelsea. The Brazil midfielder curled spectacularly over the wall from 25 yards and into the far top corner, leaving goalkeeper Asmir Begovic with no chance.
Oscar went close to doubling Chelsea’s advantage before half-time, but saw his low drive bounce back off the near post.
And, shortly after the break, he turned provider, setting Andre Schurrle free on goal, who was also frustrated by the woodwork when his powerful strike rattled the near post.
Striker Samuel Eto’o later poked wide from three yards with the net unguarded and David Luiz saw his fiercely struck free-kick brilliantly pushed over by Begovic.
But Stoke failed to test 41-year-old goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer at the other end and failed to punish the home side for not closing out the tie.
FIFTH ROUND DRAW
Manchester City v Chelsea
Sheff Utd/Fulham v Nottm F/Preston
Arsenal v Liverpool
Brighton v Hull City
Cardiff City v Wigan Athletic
Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Ath
Sunderland v Southampton
Everton v Swansea
Ties to be played 15/16 February