Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea scraped past a resilient QPR, in a West London derby which failed to ignite on the field as it had in the build-up off the pitch. A controversial penalty, dispatched by Juan Mata, proved to be the decisive goal in an otherwise low-tempo match. Anton Ferdinand and John Terry both played amidst the ongoing racism row that has gone on since the side’s last meeting back in October. The customary pre-match handshake was waived by The FA, sparing the blushes of both players.

Chelsea played with another full-strength squad, welcoming back Branislav Ivanovic at right-back, with Jose Bosingwa making way. Florent Malouda filled in for the injured Frank Lampard, whilst Gary Cahill could only make his way onto the bench, unable to displace the partnership of John Terry and David Luiz.

The first half was as dire as any half of football can get. QPR, who could not sell out all their seats, made some decent openings, their fans still conjuring up enough noise every time the England captain John Terry touched the ball. The packed away end, meanwhile, were in fine voice too, passionately pushing their team on, knowing that The FA Cup is the only realistic chance of silverware this season.

Torres and Mata combined well in the early stages, but it was Daniel Sturridge who had the first attempt, wild and wide from 30 yards. The Spanish duo did create a more meaningful chance three minutes later, with the former laying a ball to the latter’s feet, and, courtesy to a Luke Young slip, Mata could get a shot away, powerfully palmed away by Paddy Kenny.

Chelsea continued to dominate the game with no end product, typical of the SW6 side all season. Torres again linked up well, this time with his former Liverpool team-mate, Raul Meireles, but the 28-year-old could only volley wide. The first half fizzed out with neither side getting a break-through.

Meireles tries one

On-loan Manchester United striker Federico Macheda came on in the second half for the home side, in the hope to instil some drive into Rangers. But it was Chelsea who upped their tempo, and, combining that with possession, the first goal was inevitable. Clint Hill appeared to trip Daniel Sturridge, and though Mike Dean waved play on, three minutes later he awarded a penalty kick when the same duo clashed. The second incident looked more debatable than the first, but QPR’s pleads fell on deaf ears, and, in the absence of Frank Lampard, Juan Mata expertly converted the penalty, into Kenny’s left-hand corner, with the goalkeeper diving the wrong way.

Sturridge goes down

Chelsea opted to see out the game after that. Ramires blocked a powerful shot, and in the process, the Brazilian got injured for his troubles. Several minutes’ delay ensued, with the 24-year-old stretchered off in worrying scenes for the away faithful. Romeu came on in his place, with Chelsea changing to 4-2-3-1 in the final ten minutes. The two anchormen saw Chelsea through, to a home tie against Birmingham City in the next round. The Blues, installed as favourites with both Manchester sides out, will hope that they will be challenging until the very end.

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Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech [6]; Ivanovic [6], D Luiz [6], Terry (c) [7], Cole [6]; Ramires [6] (Romeu 78 [6]), Meireles [6], Malouda [6]; Sturridge [6], Torres [6], MATA [7] (Essien 90+1 [5]).

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