Chelsea progressed to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win away to Swindon Town.
A focused, energetic Fernando Torres opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark and with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Ramires gave the guests a 2-0 lead they never really came close to squandering.
That said, Swindon were admirable opponents on the night—maintaining 53 per cent possession and completing 87 per cent of their passes at the County Ground.
Alex Pritchard, operating just behind Nile Ranger to start the contest, was particularly useful for the hosts and routinely troubled the Chelsea defence with powerful runs and effective layoffs to his attacking teammates.
But it was Chelsea who did the goalscoring and Torres will have been relieved to get on the scoresheet in the 29th minute when Juan Mata’s shot—initially stopped by Swindon goalkeeper Wes Foderingham—rolled right to the feet of the much-maligned striker, who made no mistake from close in.
Six minutes later it was Torres turning provider—this time playing an exquisite through ball to Ramires, who had timed his run to perfection before delicately lifting the ball over the on-rushing Foderingham and into the back of the net.
Swindon tried to make a game of it after the restart and, in the 51st minute, they appeared to have pulled one back when Dany N’Guessan put the ball past Chelsea keeper Mark Schwarzer.
But the Frenchman, having run offside to meet Jay McEveley’s free-kick from distance, saw his effort rightfully disallowed by the linesman. It was the closest Swindon would come to cutting into Chelsea’s lead.
Yaser Kasim and Pritchard each tried their luck from distance, but in the end it was a mostly straightforward, early-round cup tie for Chelsea, who will now refocus on their Premier League and Champions League campaigns.
Key Player Grades
Fernando Torres: A
The Spaniard scored once, assisted another and—as proof he had caught Mourinho’s eye—lasted the full 90 minutes at the County Ground.
Throughout the match he appeared lively and interested and no doubt his performance will have him in his manager’s thoughts for upcoming matches against Tottenham and Steaua Bucharest.
The Brazilian played only 35 minutes on Tuesday but had a hand in both Chelsea goals. Introduced after 10 minutes as a replacement for the injured Marco van Ginkel, he immediately helped settle the Chelsea midfield alongside Michael Essien and, in the 29th minute, played a sublime ball to Mata that resulted in the Torres opener.
Six minutes later, he scored one for himself, expertly running on to Torres’ pass before finishing calmly past Foderingham.
Alex Pritchard: A-
The 20-year-old attacker, on loan at Swindon from Tottenham, was a constant menace to the Chelsea defence and was named Swindon Man of the Match. He touched the ball an impressive 77 times over the 90 minutes, completing 87 per cent of his passes.
He also took four shots and successfully executed four tackles. (Statistics courtesy WhoScored.com)
Next up for Swindon, who are 11th in League One, is a trip to Preston North End, after which they host Tranmere Rovers. They’ll face Plymouth at home in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on October 8.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will travel to Spurs on Sunday and journey to Romania for a Tuesday appointment with Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League.