Oscar shows Brazilian class with stunning free-kick to send Blues into FA Cup fifth round
Oscar, Jose Mourinho’s chosen one, struck a match-winning free-kick as Chelsea celebrated a 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round victory over Stoke on their manager’s 51st birthday.
Mourinho’s preferred number 10, the man he chose for the role ahead of the now-departed Juan Mata, fired Chelsea ahead with a delightful 28th-minute set-piece and hit a post before Andre Schurrle also hit the woodwork.
Chelsea struggled to kill off a stubborn Stoke side, despite the efforts of Oscar and Eden Hazard, and Samuel Eto’o spooned a glorious chance wide after Hazard’s direct run and cross
Brazilian class: Oscar curled the free-kick over the wall and gave Asmir Begovic no chance as it swerved past him to give Chelsea a first-half lead
Unstoppable: The Stoke players in the wall could only look on in admiration as Oscar bent the ball in
Heartfelt: Oscar celebrates with the gesture made famous by Gareth Bale
Chelsea: Schwarzer 6, Ivanovic 6, Cahill 7, Luiz 6, Cole 6, Lampard 6, Matic 7, Hazard 7, Oscar 7 (Willian 82), Schurrle 5 (Ramires 70), Eto’o 5 (Ba 85)
Substitutes not used: Cech, Mikel, Terry, Azpilicueta
Manager: Jose Mourinho 7
Scorer: Oscar 27
Stoke City: Begovic 7, Cameron 6, Shawcross 7, Pieter 6 (Muniesa 85), Wilson 6, Palacios 5 (Assaidi 72), Nzonzi 6, Walters 5, Ireland 5, Arnautovic 6 (Adam 83), Crouch 7
Substitutes not used: Whelan, Guidetti, Sorensen, Shotton
Manager: Mark Hughes 5
Booked: Cameron, Wilson, Pieters
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)
The slender advantage did not ease Mourinho’s concern, with the Portuguese wary of the December Barclays Premier League clash at Stoke, when Oussama Assaidi scored a last-gasp winner.
But on this occasion Chelsea held on to take their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup, a trophy they have won in four of the last seven attempts, including in 2007 under Mourinho.
Chelsea’s attention now turns to the Premier League derby with West Ham on Wednesday, when Stoke play Sunderland.
Following the sale of Mata to Manchester United, Chelsea recruited Mohamed Salah from Basle in a deal which Mourinho confirmed before kick-off had been completed.
Mata’s frustrations became public when he expressed his exasperation when he was substituted for Oscar at Southampton on New Year’s Day and Mourinho granted the World Cup winner his wish in sanctioning his exit.
Oscar, Hazard and Willian have been the attacking trio of choice this term, but Schurrle came in for the latter as one of five changes from the side which beat Manchester United last weekend.
Nemanja Matic made his second full debut after re-signing from Benfica and was a reassuring presence in deep midfield, slotting in seamlessly and allowing Frank Lampard to make forays forward.
Surrounded: Samuel Eto’o tries to find an escape from a phalanx of Stoke defenders
Eto’o, buoyed by his hat-trick against United, came close in the opening skirmishes after turning in a tight spot and firing a shot which drifted narrowly wide.
Hazard was also lively and ran into an outstretched Wilson Palacios leg in the penalty area.
Referee Chris Foy turned away the Belgian’s appeal for what would have been a soft penalty, but did not dole out a booking.
Hazard and Oscar were central to Chelsea’s attacking work, while also tracking back as Mourinho’s men defended as a team, a managerial demand Mata was unable to satisfy.
Mata was a set-piece specialist, but Oscar has inherited those duties and curled in a sublime free-kick for his ninth goal of the season.
Penalty appeal: Samuel Eto’o goes down under pressure in the penalty area
Searching for options: Frank Lampard keeps the ball from Steven Nzonzi
From the right edge of the area, the Brazilian struck the ball right-footed and into the opposite corner past Asmir Begovic, who was returning following a broken finger.
Oscar then continued to illustrate Mourinho’s faith in making him his attacking lynchpin by tracking back into deep midfield to thwart a promising Stoke counter-attack.
Another trait Mourinho likes is the aggression in English football, but he did not enjoy Stoke players taking their physical approach too far at times.
Hazard, on Chelsea’s left, was a particular target, and, after Geoff Cameron was booked for one over-zealous challenge, switched flanks to escape.
From the right, Hazard crossed for Lampard, who was unable to convert on the slide.
He’s behind you: Geoff Cameron looms over Eden Hazard as he tries to reach the ball
Evasion: Oscar turns away into space under pressure from Stoke striker Peter Crouch
Stoke stood firm and threatened on the counter, coming close when Stephen Ireland found space on the left of the area and shot into the side netting.
Oscar hit a post after ghosting through soon afterwards before Eto’o wriggled past Steven Nzonzi and Ryan Shawcross, but could not get a shot away.
Schurrle fired on to the angle of post and bar soon after the restart and Oscar curled narrowly wide after good build-up play from Ashley Cole and Schurrle.
As long as there was just one goal in it, Stoke were not finished and Jonathan Walters shot narrowly off target, Marco Arnautovic curled a free-kick wide and Ireland prodded straight at Mark Schwarzer when the ball did not drop for him.
Good tackle: Stoke’s Wilson Palacios takes the ball off the toes of Chelsea captain Frank Lampard during the opening stages at Stamford Bridge
Thanks for the memories: One Chelsea fan had this homemade tribute to Manchester United-bound Juan Mata
Oscar and Hazard continued to be Chelsea’s most-threatening players and the Brazilian shot at Begovic, while the Belgian’s menacing cross was cleared.
Assaidi came on with 18 minutes remaining and with Chelsea still striving to finish the contest.
Begovic saved a Lampard drive from the edge of the area and was floundering on the floor when Eto’o contrived to slice wide after Hazard’s run and cross fell to the striker with 13 minutes left.
Ramires went down on the right side of the box under the challenge of Erik Pieters, but again Foy said no penalty.
A foul by Pieters on Ramires earned Chelsea a free-kick and Begovic saved a David Luiz pile driver.
Chelsea could not get the second they sought, but Assaidi was unable to replicate his heroics as Stoke exited the tournament.
Gone but not forgotten: Juan Mata’s name still featured on the programme squad lists, despite the Spaniard’s £37million move to Manchester United this week
Wet and wild: Programme sellers shelter underneath blue and yellow umbrellas outside Stamford Bridge as the rain fell heavily in west London
Source : Daily Mail