Drogba in top Form
Scorers – Drogba 15, Alex 72
Drogba maintained his surge in form since the appointment of interim manager
Chelsea crashed out at the same stage last season, losing to another Coca-Cola Championship side in Barnsley. But there was never any danger of another shock against Chris Coleman’s side as Chelsea dominated for almost the entire 90 minutes.
Frank Lampard was given time and space to dictate matters in midfield as Chelsea maintained their 100 per cent record under Hiddink, while the revitalised Drogba was always a handful for the shaky-looking Coventry centre-back pairing of Ben Turner and Scott Dann.
The Ivory Coast international put the visitors ahead when he outmuscled home defender Turner before firing in a shot from a tight angle – his sixth goal of the campaign. “It was good to score a goal and get through to the semi-finals,” Drogba said. ”
The win was Hiddink’s fifth in as many games since taking charge last month, and the Dutchman has Drogba to thank for playing a significant part. Reinvigorated since Hiddink’s arrival at Stamford Bridge, Drogba has now scored three times in five games.
“He is dangerous. He is working very hard and he is good for the team,” said Hiddink. “There are still some little things that he needs to improve on, but he is working on them in sessions outside of training which he likes.”
Hiddink paid Coventry the compliment of fielding the same side which had won at Portsmouth in the Barclays Premier League in midweek. The line-up included defender Ashley Cole who had received an £80 fixed penalty fine for being drunk and disorderly in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Inside three minutes Drogba, who had scored the winner at Fratton Park, missed a golden chance to break the deadlock. A long clearance by Petr Cech picked out the Chelsea striker, who easily turned past Turner to find himself with only Keiran Westwood to beat. But Drogba, who was operating as the lone front player, screwed his shot wide of the far post when he should have at least hit the target.
But after 15 minutes Drogba took advantage of hesitancy in the Coventry defence to put Chelsea ahead. There looked to be little danger, but Turner hesitated, was muscled off the ball by Drogba and the striker calmly took the ball around Westwood before drilling his shot into the net. The Ivory Coast international made a point of running to the substitutes’ bench to celebrate with the fit-again Michael Essien.
Chelsea looked as if they could breach the Coventry back four at will. Lampard picked out the run of Jose Bosingwa and his cross was cut back to Ballack, whose fierce shot was blocked.
Westwood then had to be alert to deny Lampard a 16th goal of the season when he tipped over a dipping 30-yard free-kick after Henderson had fouled Cole.
Hiddink made a half-time substitution, bringing on Quaresma in place of Salomon Kalou. Chelsea started where they left off, knocking the ball around in confident fashion, and Drogba volleyed wide at the near post. Chris Coleman, the Coventry manager, made his first change after 59 minutes, with former Hibernian midfielder Guillaume Beuzelin replacing Doyle.
The home side tried to build up some momentum in front of a 31,407 crowd – the highest ever for a football match at the stadium – but they still seldom troubled the Chelsea back four.
Essien made his long-awaited comeback from a knee-ligament injury after 65 minutes, coming on in place of Mikel to great cheers from the 5,500 Chelsea contingent.
Alex then made sure of victory for Chelsea with his second goal of the season. Quaresma broke clear down the right and spotted the run of Alex who calmly drilled the ball past Westwood