Michy Batshuayi and Fikayo Tomori scored in either half as Chelsea beat Championship side Hull to reach the FA Cup fifth round.
The Blues took an early lead when Batshuayi’s strike deflected off Hull’s Ryan Tafazolli and the ball flew beyond wrong-footed goalkeeper George Long.
Chelsea dominated the rest of the half with Long required to make a series of good saves, but after the break the Championship side enjoyed a spell of domination where they threatened an equaliser.
Herbie Kane failed to make the most of a free-kick while Jarrod Bowen had the Chelsea defence scrambling with a piercing run but put his shot just over the bar.
The hosts’ hopes were knocked, though, when Chelsea added a second from a free-kick as Tomori, who had a season-long loan at Hull two years ago, nodded in Ross Barkley’s delivery for his second goal for Frank Lampard’s side.
Chelsea twice went close to adding a third through Pedro, who first placed an effort just wide of the far post before clipping an effort over the goalkeeper only for the ball to land in the side-netting.
Instead it was Hull who scored to set up a tense finale as Kamil Grosicki’s free-kick from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection to land in the back of the net.
However, Chelsea held on to edge victory and ensure their place in Monday’s fifth-round draw.
Batshuayi stakes his claim?
With Tammy Abraham out injured and Chelsea rumoured to be considering striker options before the transfer window closes on Friday, this game represented a big chance for Batshuayi to prove to boss Lampard that he can have a part to play.
The Belgian striker has struggled to force his way into the first-team reckoning since his £33m move from Marseille in 2016, starting just four Premier League games since then.
Most of the 26-year-old’s time at Stamford Bridge has been spent away on loan but despite his limited starts, his strike rate at the Blues is still impressive, averaging a goal every 92 minutes.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 25, 2020
It took him just six minutes to get on the scoresheet against Hull, and while there was a big slice of fortune about the goal – his shot deflecting wickedly off Tafazolli – Batshuayi had positioned himself well in the build-up, drifting away from his opponents to give him ample space to get the shot off.
But Batshuayi failed to build on that and was largely quiet for the rest of the game with his most significant contribution a near post-block to cut out a dangerous Hull free-kick.
If Chelsea are indeed considering bolstering their attacking options, this performance from Batshuayi is unlikely to deter Lampard from dipping into the transfer market, but the Blues boss has challenged the player to continue to fill in for Abraham.
“He got his goal so I’m pleased as it’ll help his confidence,” Lampard said. “I’ve said it all season, we can’t just rely on Tammy. I want him firing, I’ve said all season that he can do this, so I just want to see him putting home goals.
“I want to see to him performing, at this level you’re judged on scoring goals and I know he can do that so it’s good to see it.”
Tigers beaten but not mauled
Hull faced a sizeable task of causing an upset. They had not beaten Chelsea in any competition since 1988 and were thumped 4-0 by the Blues in the FA Cup in 2018.
The Tigers also went into this game on the back of two league defeats – failing to score a goal in either of those games – but nevertheless gave a good account of themselves with a spirited performance.
Top scorer Bowen, linked with a move to the top flight this month, was their busiest player in the first half and managed four shots on goal – more than any other player on the pitch although none of them really troubled Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal.
The 23-year-old’s best moment came early in the second half when he took on three players by himself before poking a shot just over the bar.
From then on his influence waned and Hull’s spark dulled but Grosicki’s fortuitous goal in the closing stages gave them renewed hope.
In the end, a second goal was just beyond them but this was a gutsy performance that Tigers fans will hope can help reignite their play-off challenge. Hull are seven points off the top six.
“I was pleased with the response they produced and I was pleased with some individual performances,” said Hull boss Grant McCann.
“It was a big game today, but we’re back to league games and that’s more important. It was nice to see the stadium full, when we got back to 2-1 I could feel the roar coming, we really felt the support.”
Lampard’s winning run continues – the stats
- Chelsea are unbeaten in 16 games against Hull City, winning 14 and drawing two since a 3-0 defeat in October 1988.
- Hull have won none of their 11 FA Cup games against Chelsea (D3 L8).
- Chelsea have only lost one of their last 47 FA Cup matches against sides in the second tier (W37 D9), with that loss coming against Barnsley in the 2007-08 quarter-finals.
- Frank Lampard has been on the winning side in each of his last six meetings with Hull City as a player or manager; two as a player with Chelsea and Manchester City and four as a manager with Chelsea and Derby.
- Hull’s Grant McCann has lost all five of his meetings with Premier League opposition as a manager, also being beaten by Chelsea in the FA Cup in 2016-17 as Peterborough boss.