Chelsea made their way through to the next stage of the EFL Cup, defeating Bristol Rovers 3-2 in the second round at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Michy Batshuayi struck twice in the first half as Victor Moses obtained a third, but Rovers battled valiantly and struck back through Peter Hartley and a second-half penalty from Ellis Harrison.
Rovers deserved a draw after a spirited display, but their lack of cohesion in the first half cost them a precious draw on the night.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was included in Antonio Conte's side as an attacking midfielder, supporting Batshuayi in the forward positions. Cesc Fabregas made his first start of the season, replacing recent signing N’Golo Kante. Diego Costa dropped to the bench as the Blues coach shuffled the pack.
There were two changes for Rovers from the draw against Southend United in their last outing. Darrell Clarke’s side sit 18th in League One, having taken just four points. However, they did beat Championship side Cardiff City to secure their place in the second round and a mouthwatering trip to west London.
The hosts were quickly out the blocks as they attempted to put the League One outfit to the sword. Fabregas and Loftus-Cheek expertly linked up with Batshuayi to form a deadly combination
Loftus-Cheek smashed a long-range effort off the post as Conte's men threatened to score, and the Blues finally took the lead shortly before the half-hour mark.
The goal came from the always dangerous Batshuayi, who thumped his effort past goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall from close range.
Chelsea doubled their lead two minutes later as Moses tapped home from a yard out, seemingly giving his side an unreachable advantage against inferior opposition.
However, the Rovers' fightback began 10 minutes before the break as Hartley snatched a goal back for the visitors. Hartley met a well-timed set piece and headed past goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to beat the Chelsea defence.
Rovers hearts were once again broken by Batshuayi as the striker claimed the fourth goal of the night to make it 3-1, four minutes before the break.
The Belgium international was quickly picked out by Loftus-Cheek, and the player made no mistake as Rovers heads dropped.
Squawka.com tipped their hat to Batshuayi's early statistics:
Vlogger and Chelsea fan George Benson hailed the club's latest goalscoring sensation:
Chelsea smiles were smudged after only three minutes of the second half as Harrison scored Rovers' second of the night.
Pedro clattered midfielder Stuart Sinclair in the box to give the referee an easy decision, allowing Harrison the chance to strike from the spot.
Chelsea gave further details of the surprise goal via their official Twitter feed:
Begovic saved Blues blushes on the hour as he denied Bristol an equaliser, and the Chelsea crowd were becoming increasingly agitated as they watched their side falter.
Rovers continued to throw their best at the Premier League stalwarts, and the home fans cheered as Eden Hazard warmed up in anticipation of entering the battle.
OptaJoe highlighted Chelsea's weak back line as they struggle to keep clean sheets at the Bridge:
Rovers looked the most likely as time evaporated at the Bridge, but the League One side didn't have enough in the tank to pin back Chelsea.
Batshuayi thought he'd grabbed his hat-trick in the final minute, but the referee disallowed his effort—to the confusion of the players on the pitch and watching spectators.
The Blues claimed the 3-2 win, but it wasn't a convincing display as Conte watched his side struggle with their patchy confidence in the second half.
Chelsea improved once Hazard arrived from the bench, but Rovers almost caused the biggest shock of the second round.
Chelsea's official Twitter feed provided Conte's post-match reaction, and the Italian was disappointed with how the Blues dealt with their lower league opponents:
Chelsea next feature when they host Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday, Aug. 27. Rovers also play on the same day in League One when they travel to Swindon Town.