On potentially his last appearance for the club, Callum Hudson-Odoi scored just his second Chelsea goal either side of two Willian strikes to ensure a comfortable victory for the Blues against Sheffield Wednesday.
In a side that showed eight changes from Thursday night’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Tottenham, on-loan forward Gonzalo Higuain got his first start under former boss Maurizio Sarri, but his display was underwhelming as Chelsea struggled for large parts to create goal scoring opportunities.
However, in the space of three minutes, the tie sparked into life, as Sheffield Wednesday were awarded a penalty for a lunging tackle by Ethan Ampadu, only to see it overturned by VAR. Straight from the restart, however, Chelsea themselves were given a penalty for a foul on Cesar Azpilicueta by former Blues player Sam Hutchinson, and this time the decision was final as Willian stepped up to fire Chelsea into the lead.
Following reports of the 18-year-old winger having handed in a transfer request, Hudson-Odoi showcased exactly what makes him such an attractive proposition, collecting Andreas Christensen’s clipped ball before chopping back onto his left foot and shooting through the body of Keiren Westwood in goal. Willian then capped off a good night’s work personally with a sumptuous curling effort from Olivier Giroud’s lay off.
Willy Caballero - 6
His penalty heroics were not necessary in the end as VAR overturned the referee’s initial decision to award Wednesday a penalty. A very quiet night in goal for the veteran stopper.
Cesar Azpilcueta - 7
Judged the bounce of the ball poorly on several occasions early on and was uncertain in coming to meet his man in possession. Did well to get forward and win the penalty that gave Chelsea the lead.
Antonio Rudiger - 6
Was just stronger aerially than any of the Wednesday forward line, but his range of passing was missing and it dictated the ponderous pace with which Chelsea played.
Andreas Christensen - 6.5
Had little to occupy him as Chelsea’s conservative approach left for little attacking threat from the Championship side. His superb diagonal ball took inspiration from the man he was deputising for, as Hudson-Odoi latched on to his pass to score Chelsea’s second goal.
Marcos Alonso - 6.5
His inclusion today potentially spells the end of his long-standing dominance over the left-back role. Irrespective of that however his performance was solid and he contributed well in forward areas, getting to the byline regularly in the second half.
Ross Barkley - 6
Barkley was slightly more forward than his partner Mateo Kovacic but didn’t assert himself on the game, offloading the ball too quickly and lacking any real purpose to his play.
Ethan Ampadu - 5
Very sloppy and laboured in possession, often under hitting simple five-yard balls. He was pushed further forward in the second half but was equally ineffective, and replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek midway through. VAR was however correct in not awarding a penalty for his well-timed challenge on Joey Pelupessy.
Mateo Kovacic - 6
Played the majority of the game with his back to goal, offering no form of transition play and adding to a slow, complacent tempo. Tried unsuccessfully to link up with Higuain and bring him into the game but the further he dropped back the less influential he became.
Willian - 8.5
Took centre stage as was to be expected for a player of his quality. He spread the play with sweeping cross field balls and was rewarded with two goals, the second of which being a fine curling effort. He did all the right things to warrant a starting berth at the weekend.
Gonzalo Higuain - 6
Fed off scraps, but did nothing to suggest he offered anything different to the likes of Alvaro Morata and Giroud before him. His movement was static and his link-up play lacked the sort of quality that Giroud displayed just minutes after coming off the bench.
Only time will tell whether he is resigned to join a long list of high-profile Chelsea strikers who’ve struggled to replicate their best form in a blue shirt.
Callum Hudson-Odoi - 7
Did very little overall to warrant the starting spot he so desires. He was direct on the ball, drawing numerous fouls, but more often than not when he beat his man he lacked the ability to hit the target man.
In the blink of an eye, however, raw untested potential became decisive cutting edge, as he doubled Chelsea’s advantage with a brilliantly taken goal.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6, Saw very little of the ball and while linking up well with Hudson-Odoi he failed to drive into areas of any real danger.
Olivier Giroud – 7, Showed Higuain exactly what to do, acting as the backboard for a neat one-two with Willian, and holding off Wednesday defenders with strong hold-up play and close ball control.
Jorginho – 6, Only had a few minutes on the pitch but his first thought was always a forward pass, he just lacked the accuracy to make the opposition pay.