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Capital One Cup: Chelsea confident Walsall victory is just what the doctor ordered

Walsall 1-4 Chelsea

By Nick Mashiter

Published 24/09/2015

Ram raid: Chelsea ace Ramires beats Neil Etheridge and James O’Connor of Walsall to score their first goal
Ram raid: Chelsea ace Ramires beats Neil Etheridge and James O’Connor of Walsall to score their first goal

Chelsea continued to rebuild their season as they eased past Walsall in the Capital One Cup.

Ramires, Loic Remy and Kenedy, on his full debut, put the visitors in control before Pedro's late strike secured a comfortable 4-1 win to temporarily keep minds off Diego Costa's suspension and Dr Eva Carneiro's exit.

The competitive Saddlers pulled a goal back through James O'Connor before half-time but they could not cope with Chelsea's power as the holders cruised into the fourth round.

They now head to Newcastle, a club in a real crisis following their cup exit to Sheffield Wednesday, in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday aiming to claw back the gap to Manchester City at the top.

The Blues dominated from the start, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek seeing a shot blocked, before taking an inevitable early lead on 10 minutes.

Walsall were their own worst enemies, though, as they contrived to gift Chelsea the opening goal when goalkeeper Neil Etheridge's sloppy pass left Paul Downing in trouble and he was robbed by Kenedy.

The 19-year-old then had time to cross from the left for the unmarked Ramires to head in at the far post.

Chelsea were in no mood to let the Saddlers off lightly, with Falcao's movement and Ramires' drive causing problems and the duo combined after 20 minutes.

Ramires slipped Falcao through, and when Etheridge got a touch on his low shot, O'Connor hacked it off the line.

The Monaco loanee was making his first start for Chelsea and dominated O'Connor, even if he failed to find the net.

But just as O'Connor struggled, Branislav Ivanovic had his moments against the impressive Romaine Sawyers and former Chelsea forward Milan Lalkovic.

Walsall had gradually grabbed a foothold following their sloppy start and Lalkovic fired wide after tricking his way past Ivanovic on 26 minutes while Sawyers' marauding made life difficult for Chelsea's right-back.

Mourinho's men, though, seemingly eased any concerns ahead of half-time as they doubled their lead four minutes before the break.

Again it was the impressive Ramires at the heart of the move as he slipped in Remy on the right and the forward's first-time effort flew past Etheridge.

Yet Walsall handed themselves a lifeline in first-half injury-time when Asmir Begovic parried Lalkovic's 30-yard free-kick and O'Connor's follow up crawled across the line.

It raised the decibel level at the Banks' Stadium but they were silenced seven minutes after the re-start when Chelsea regained their two-goal lead.

The hosts were surprisingly subdued and paid the price when Loftus-Cheek threaded a delightful throughball for Kenedy to lash in from 10 yards.

The Saddlers, though, refused to go quietly and Sawyers headed over as they mounted some late pressure but substitute Pedro wrapped up the game for Chelsea in stoppage-time.

walsall1

CHELSEA4

WALSALL: Etheridge, Demetriou, Downing, O'Connor, Henry, Chambers (Flanagan 73), Mantom, Morris, Sawyers, Lalkovic (Forde 73), Cook (Baxendale 86).

Goals: O'Connor 45

Subs not used: Taylor, MacGillivray, Preston, Kinsella.

CHELSEA: Begovic, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Baba, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek (Matic 72), Ramires, Kenedy (Pedro 70), Remy, Falcao (Djilobodji 90).

Goals: Ramires 10, Remy 41, Kenedy 52, Pedro 90. Subs not used: Hazard, Traore, Blackman, Aina.

Man of the match: Ramires

Match rating: 7/10 Referee: Lee Mason

Belfast Telegraph

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