Frank Lampard is an FA Cup specialist having lifted the trophy four times as a Chelsea player. He knows hanging on for grim life in Hull can lead to great things at Wembley on a sunny afternoon in May.
It’s a mystery why Chelsea only squeezed into the fifth round having given themselves a comfortable cushion with a goal in each half from Michy Batshuayi and Fikayo Tomori.
But it became an extremely anxious final few minutes once Kamil Grosicki hammered in a deflected free-kick for Hull. The Polish winger slashed at an equalizing chance and there was general panic in the Chelsea defense during a noisy final few minutes.
Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori was on hand at the back post to head home a free-kick and double the visitor’s lead
Tomori stood with his chest puffed out and roared towards the Chelsea faithful behind the goal after scoring the second
Marcos Alonso joined his team-mate in celebration as fans erupted into a chorus of noise inside the KCOM Stadium
Chelsea fans stoked up the atmosphere, knowing the FA cup provides their best chance of winning silverware this season
Lampard is becoming a master of tough love and admitted he’s sounding like a stuck record bemoaning Chelsea’s lack of ruthlessness in front of goal.
‘It’s good we’re in the hat but we should have managed the game better. There were more goals to be had, ’he argued. ‘We were sloppy at times. We need to keep doing the good things, don’t try a Cruyff turn, don’t chip a pass without real care. When we do that we are not a good team.
‘We are having a lot of shots but not taking the chances. You have to repeat the message. The young players have to get it. But whilst I am a little not delighted with the performance, I do understand the toughness of the game. ‘
Interestingly, Lampard sent on two rookie subs Billy Gilmour and Tariq Lamptey to help an already-young team weather the storm. ‘It’s because I trust them,’ he said. ‘I thought Billy was the best player on the pitch during his time on the pitch.’
Kamil Grosicki’s free-kick pulled a late goal back for Hull after a vicious deflection off Mateo Kovacic beat the goalkeeper
The Croatian set the effort on a complete different trajectory after jumping and spinning in mid-air to block the ball
Willy Caballero was left scrambling back across his goalmouth, wrong-footed, after the ball changed direction mid-flight
Hull (4-2-3-1): Long 7: Tafazolli 6, Burkey 6, McKenzie 6, Lichaj 6; Honeyman 6 (Samuelson 69 6), Kane 6; Lopes 6, Wilks 6 (Grosicki 64 7), Bowen 7; Eaves 5.5 (Magennis 90 6)
Goal: Grosicki 90
Chelsea (4-3-3): Caballero 6: Azpilicueta 7, Zouma 7, Tomori 6.5, Alonso 6; Mount 6.5 (Willian 90 6), Kovacic 8, Barkley 7; Hudson-Odoi 6 (Gilmour 78 6.5), Batshuayi 7, Pedro 5.5 (Lamptey 90)
Subs: Cumming (Gk), Christense, Palmieri, Lamptey, Maatsen
Goals: Batshuayi 6, Tomori 69
Booked: Kovacic, Zouma
Referee : Craig Pawson 7
It was all very character building and Chelsea did survive, importantly so. If Lampard’s impressive first season is to be topped off with a trophy – and Lampard’s playing career was synonymous with silverware – this competition is the best bet.
Lampard made eight changes from the side that drew with Arsenal in midweek and for long periods they were more than good enough for the team ranked 12 th in the Championship.
It was a big opportunity for Batshuayi with Tammy Abraham injured, Olivier Giroud wanting away and no big-money striker signed in this window, yet.
The Belgian, who reached the cup quarter-finals on loan at Crystal Palace last season, took only six minutes to make his point.
Mateo Kovacic turned defense into attack with a masterful pass to release Cesar Azpilicueta and within seconds the full-back produced a firm cross into the penalty area.
Mason Mount took the ball in his stride and though his initial shot was blocked, Batshuayi pounced on the rebound and beat goalkee per George Long with the aid of a deflection off Ryan Tafazoli’s outstretched leg.
It was Batshuayi’s first goal since October and the finish underlined why Lampard won’t let him leave this month.
Hull responded well with leading scorer and Premier League magnet Jarrod Bowen showing quick feet and good movement.
But the hosts were still indebted to their goalkeeper George Long keeping the first half score down to 1-0 by bravely coming off his line to smother Mount, who’d been released by an other excellent Kovacic pass. Azpilicueta also had a decent opportunity on the stroke of half-time.
Hull started the second period brightly but were again undone when Chelsea moved up a gear. Mount was brought down by Eric Lichaj and Ross Barkley’s free-kick to the far post found Tomori unmarked to power in a header.
Mitchy Batshuayi had got Chelsea off the mark inside eight minutes by slotting the ball through a series a Hull defenders
The Belgian let out some relief with his celebration and hammered the ball into the back of the Hull netting
Frank Lampard headed over to salute the Chelsea fans at the final whistle, after they chanted his name throughout
To the underdogs credit, they kept going, boosted by the arrival of star winger Grosicki from the bench.
After Marcos Alonso fouled Martin Samuelson, Grosicki took responsibility for the free-kick and beat Willy Caballero via a heavy deflection off Kovacic.
It roused the home crowd and Chelsea were left clinging to their lead. Grosicki fired the best chance wide and the ball bounced around the visitor’s area like a pinball machine.
Lampard wants fresh blood in the final few days of the transfer window and he also needs Batshuayi to go on a scoring run.
‘I’ve said all season we can’t rely just on Tammy,’ said the Chelsea boss. ‘I want Michy firing and scoring goals like he did today because we need him. The goal was slightly fortunate – I like that. It’s what scorers do. I want him to keep delivering because this level of football is demanding. ‘
Deflated Hull manager Grant McCann said:’ When we had a good period, they scored. ‘