Chelsea set up a mouth watering fifth round FA Cup tie against Manchester City with a comfortable a 1-0 victory against Stoke on Jose Mourinho’s 51st birthday.
Oscar’s sublime first half free-kick proved the difference between the sides, but in truth the gap was far wider as Chelsea squandered a hatful of chances.
Mourinho had said he wanted to build the team around the Brazilian midfielder, and both he and the ever-lively Eden Hazard pulled the strings from the outset.
Having put his side ahead midway through the first half, Oscar also hit the inside of the woodwork and set up Andre Schurrle for a shot that also cannoned back off the woodwork.
Samuel Eto’o and Frank Lampard also had chances to make the score more comfortable, but even when 1-0 down Stoke never showed any urgency to get back into the match and mustered just a solitary shot on target.
1’ – Eto’o goes close: Chelsea almost take the lead in the opening minute as Samuel Eto’s shot goes through the legs of Shawcross and just past the far post.
4’ – Chance for Crouch: The big man easily gets across the front of David Luiz but can’t keep his header down and it’s over the bar.
13’ – Hazard penalty shout waved away: The lively winger goes to ground under a challenge from Palacios but seemed to be looking for it.
27’ – GOAL Chelsea: Pieters brings down Eto’o and from the resultant free kick, Oscar finds the back of the net with a sublime strike swung into the top left corner.
39’ – Lampard so close: Another great run and cross from Hazard who fizzes it across the face of goal and Lampard somehow doesn’t get a touch from a yard out.
40’ – Chance for Ireland: He pounces on a deflection but lashes his shot into the side netting.
41’ – Oscar hits the woodwork: He bears down on the Stoke goal and smashes his shot against the inside of the post.
47’ – Schurrle hits the post: Oscar turns provider and the German cannons his shot back off the angle as stoke survive again.
77’ – Chance for Ramires: It’s another great run and cross from Hazard but first Ramires then Eto’o somehow fail to scramble it over the line.
83’ – Fantastic save Begovic: David Luiz’s strike is arrowing for the top corner but Begovic claws it out brilliantly.
No Mata, no matter. Jose Mourinho will have been delighted by Oscar’s latest performance and his recent business dealings. If Juan Mata is worth £37 million, the stock of his new midfield maestro is rising rapidly.
The Blues have won their last seven at Stamford Bridge against the Potters, keeping a clean sheet in their last six encounters.
Excluding penalty shoot-out defeats, Chelsea are unbeaten in 26 FA Cup games at Stamford Bridge (W21 D4).
Oscar’s goal was his ninth of the season.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Oscar (Chelsea): Gave Chelsea 80 minutes of brilliance in the centre of the park and scored a sublime winner. Mourinho has decided to build his team around the Brazilian and the Chelsea faithful may soon forget all about Juan Mata.
Chelsea: Schwarzer 6, Ivanovic 6, David Luiz 7, Cahill 6, Cole 6, Matic 6, Lampard 7, Schurrle 6, Oscar 9, Hazard 8, Eto'o 6. Subs: Ramires 7, Willian 6, Ba 6.
Stoke: Begovic 7, Cameron 6, Shawcross 7, Wilson 6, Pieters 6, Walters 5, Nzonzi 6, Ireland 6, Palacios 6, Arnautovic 6, Crouch 5. Subs: Muniesa 6, Adam 6, Assaidi 6.
MATCH IN A TWEET