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CHELSEA weren’t at their best but survived a late scare to reach the FA Cup fifth round, beating Hull City 2-1 at Walton Street.
While their quality told in the end, there were familiar frustrations for Frank Lampard as his side squandered a number of chances. Michy Batshuayi and Fikayo Tomori scored in each half, before Kamil Grosicki pulled one back 12 minutes from time in front of Hull’s biggest crowd for three years.
Lampard admits he “wasn’t delighted” with the performance, but understands how tough these cup ties can be.
“We had chances to score, and when we had those chances and played some nice passages, we got sloppy,” he said.
“At half-time I wasn’t delighted and then Hull really gave us a tough game in the second half.
“If you’re not going to take those chances when you can, then it can remain tough until the 94th minute, which it did.
‘While I’m not delighted with the performance, which is partly because of the last couple of games, I also understand the toughness of these games. I’ve played in them and sometimes sneaked through when we didn’t deserve to, or it was a real mess and we got through. They’re not easy games and I respect what Hull did to us today.”
Hull started with purpose, but just six minutes were on the clock when Chelsea took the lead. Batshuayi found himself in space in the area, before dispatching coolly past George Long.
From that point, the Blues became more dominant. Ross Barkley muscled his way through the Hull back line and met Mason Mount’s pass, but was thwarted by Long, who rushed off his line to smother the shot. Mount then combined brilliantly with Mateo Kovacic, but Long was there again.
Jarrod Bowen, the subject of much Premier League interest and speculation, went close for Hull, but after combining with debutant Mallik Wilks, his shot on the turn lacked power and was easily collected by Willy Caballero.
As one minute of stoppage-time was added, Chelsea again called Long into action. This time, Cesar Azpilicueta unleashed a shot from the right, but the Tigers’ stopper kept the deficit to a single goal at the break.
The second half started much like the first for the hosts. Bowen was more involved in the play and proving why there is such a clamour for his signature. He almost levelled the score with a mazy run and shot from distance, but it whistled over the bar.
In similar fashion to earlier though, Hull were stopped in their tracks by a Chelsea goal, four minutes past the hour. Barkley’s free-kick found former Tigers loanee Tomori unmarked at the back post, and he made no mistake.
Chelsea soon made a double substitution, introducing Billy Gilmour and Willian. The latter was instantly involved, linking up well with Pedro, who danced into the area and shot inches wide.
Hull had also made changes, one of them being Grosicki, and he got his side back into the game when his free-kick deflected in off the wall, leaving Caballero flat-footed.
Gilmour and Grosicki then both had chances, but neither could convert as Chelsea edged through to the last 16.
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