Chelsea are on the rise again after Oscar's treble
MK Dons 1-5 Chelsea
The MK Dons wanted to put on a show and did, hospitable hosts to the end. A first-half hat-trick by Oscar was in fact a poor return from a player who benefited most from the leaden steps of an overawed and overrun opponent.
Chelsea arrived yesterday unbeaten in eight matches and on the back of a victory at Arsenal that suggested the woes of the late Jose Mourinho period were behind them.
The paucity of the challenge provided by the Championship side warns against making too big a claim on behalf of Guus Hiddink's team, but in this setting at least, they looked a decent approximation to the unit that won the Premier League nine months ago.
Eden Hazard put on an exhibition in the No.10 shirt, ending an absurd run of 31 games without a Chelsea goal from the penalty spot early in the second-half. He won the award himself courtesy of the kind of dart into the box that had been his trademark.
The game was over by then, of course, and might have been in the first 10 minutes such was the scale of the MK Dons implosion.
Wisely, their manager Karl Robinson chose to highlight the strength of the opposition rather than his own team's failings. "They were outstanding," Robinson said. "They showed plenty of class.
"You want to beat them, but when you reflect they were just outstanding. I will use this as a learning curve. Some of my players will come out better players."
The positive for Chelsea, if that is what you can call it, is a home draw against Manchester City in the fifth round, described by Hiddink as "a final, a huge game".
Oscar needed three attempts to breach the shredded MK defence, finally, in the 15th minute, forcing the ball home on the stretch past David Martin.
As poor as the Dons were defensively, they did not want for ambition going forward and were level within six minutes. A sharp move down the left saw the ball break to captain Dean Lewington, who shifted it square to Darren Potter. He let fly, his shot looping high off Nemanja Matic over the outstretched hand of Thibaut Courtois into the net.
The visitors were ahead again 11 minutes later, Oscar sliding the ball across the diving Martin.
The Brazilian clinched his hat-trick with a rasping drive a minute before half time.
Diego Costa made way for Bertrand Traoré immediately after Hazard got their fourth in the 55th minute. Traoré needed only six minutes to make his mark, smashing in right-footed.
Hiddink said: "We have to take into consideration the team we played came from a lower league but we can be happy.
"Hazard is coming back after a long absence. He needs the rhythm of the game, which is important.
"The players have responded well. I have said we cannot depend only on of Diego Costa, we ask others to contribute."