FAC: Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff City

Holders Chelsea reached the FA Cup quarter-finals after they saw

off Cardiff 4-1 despite a brief scare at Stamford Bridge on

Saturday.

Didier Drogba put Chelsea in front in the second minute but

Michael Chopra stunned the home side with an equaliser before

half-time.

Second-half goals from Michael Ballack, Daniel Sturridge and

substitute Salomon Kalou put Carlo Ancelotti’s side into the last

eight.

Chelsea got off to a great start when John Obi Mikel’s long

ball put Drogba in the clear and the Ivory Coast striker ran on to

fire past the static David Marshall.

It was Drogba’s fourth goal in three games since his return

from the African Nations Cup and his 23rd of the season.

Cardiff almost equalised when Peter Whittingham’s free-kick

was sent towards the top corner by Anthony Gerrard.

But with City ready to celebrate an equaliser, Hilario

somehow managed to get across and tip the ball over the bar.

In the 25th minute, Drogba was unlucky with an overhead kick

from six yards when a cross from Michael Ballack had found him

ahead of his marker.

Fortunately for Marshall in the City goal, Drogba’s effort

went straight to him.

Chelsea remained in control of the game with Cardiff

restricted to rare counter-attacks.

But one of them paid off in stunning fashion in the 34th

minute when they equalised through Chopra.

The Cardiff striker shocked the home side with his 17th goal

of the season.

Chopra got clear of Alex to head Chris Burke’s cross into the

net beyond the helpless Hilario, to the delight of the 6,000

travelling City fans.

The Cardiff equaliser had certainly livened the game up but

Chelsea gradually managed to get on top once more.

Sturridge, who has scored in the last two rounds, was a yard

wide with a 25-yard shot in the 43rd minute.

Chelsea’s passing began to go astray as the half wore on and

Cardiff were able to end the first half on level terms.

Chelsea replaced the ineffective Joe Cole with Kalou at

half-time.

Drogba, the only Chelsea player really on his game, found

Marshall alert when he tried to send a 25-yard free-kick inside the

near post just seconds after the restart.

But Chelsea were back in front in the 51st minute when

Drogba’s pass evaded Mark Kennedy to put Michael Ballack through on

goal. The Germany captain kept his cool to volley the ball over

Marshall and make it 2-1.

Chelsea defender Alex was unlucky to see a header cleared by

the Cardiff rearguard on the hour as the home side pressed for a

third goal.

The home side were again in control with Drogba at the heart

of all their best moves.

The Ivory Coast striker was unlucky not to get on the end of

a through-ball from Paulo Ferreira while Sturridge shot well wide

from 20 yards in the 67th minute.

Chelsea finally got a third in the 69th minute when a scrappy

build-up allowed the ball to run loose to Sturridge, who slipped it

beyond Marshall.

It was his fourth goal in the competition – and his last

contribution before being replaced by Florent Malouda.

Cardiff continued to make sporadic forays into the Chelsea

half and on one such attack, Kevin McNaughton was a yard wide with

a 20-yard angled drive.

Whittingham then brought a fine save out of Hilario with a

low drive from 25 yards as Chelsea rested on their two-goal lead.

However, Kalou made it 4-1 in the 86th minute when he

superbly headed home a cross from Ferreira.

The Ivory Coast striker twisted his body in mid-air to send

the header over Marshall’s reach and into the top corner of the

net.

Malouda was way off target in the 90th minute when he tried

his luck from the edge of the penalty area – but Chelsea had done

enough to go through to the last eight.