Belfast Telegraph

Bring on Barca - Conte's call after Chelsea stroll past Tigers

Chelsea 4 Hull City 0

By Nick Purewal

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte insisted he is ready for Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City - his side's next three opponents - after last night's Stamford Bridge stroll against Hull.

Willian's smart brace sealed the Blues passage into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, with Olivier Giroud bagging his first Chelsea goal and Pedro also on target before the half-time whistle.

Conte has come under pressure as the Premier League champions have struggled this season and now come three massive tests, starting at home to Barca on Tuesday.

"Good game, good performance. It was great for us. The most important thing is that we are in the next round. Now we have to prepare for the game against Barcelona," he said.

"You hope to always have a game that you can dominate. Our start was impressive. We started with great focus and concentration, will to score and wanted to go to the next round. I'm really pleased with the commitment of my players.

"It was a positive night for us because we had the opportunity to rest some important players. At the same time, I saw players in good form. I have different options. Now we have three days to make the best decision for the game against Barcelona.

"We lost two games at the end of a busy period. Now we have the right confidence again. But in the next two weeks we have to play massive games and we must be strong. We are ready."

Chelsea proved so dominant as to coast through the entire second half, with Conte applauding fans for lending support by pointedly chanting his name.

They punished Hull's nerves without mercy, claiming all four goals in a ruthless first-half showing.

Willian whipped home the opener from 20 yards in just the second minute.

The Brazilian skinned Kevin Stewart, picked his spot and dispatched a stylish opener, that kick-started the goal glut.

Giroud missed two fine chances with Pedro failing to latch onto a smart throughball in between those failed efforts for the French forward.

Chelsea hardly had to wait for their second goal however, with Pedro hauling down a fine pass from Cess Fabregas, and drilling home.

And when Giroud mugged Stewart just outside the box, Chelsea killed any remaining shred of a Hull fightback. The former Arsenal hitman fed Willian, and the 29-year-old duly rifled in another accurate finish from distance.

Giroud even troubled the scorers himself before the break, stretching backwards smartly to poke home at the near post from Emerson's low cross.

Hull started the second half the brighter, with Harry Wilson drawing a foul and penalty from Fabregas.

Caballero easily dealt with Meyler's tame penalty however, thanks potentially in some small part to Willian who also showed his savvy side, appearing to distract David Meyler with a cheeky comment just before he was about to take the spot kick.

The Chelsea goalkeeper then denied Nouha Dicko with another smart intervention, and one that roused the Blues from their second-half slumber.

Determined to complete his hat-trick, first Willian was just unable to work space to drill home - then saw another teasing effort rebound off the upright.

Belfast Telegraph


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