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Pressure on Pochettino eases as Chelsea wins 3-1 at Aston Villa in FA Cup replay

So much for Chelsea being in crisis.

A 3-1 win at Aston Villa in an FA Cup fourth-round replay on Wednesday extended Chelsea’s strong run of results in the domestic cup competitions this season, just as critics were getting on manager Mauricio Pochettino’s back for the team’s many dismal displays in the Premier League.

Chelsea arrived at Villa Park having been routed 4-1 at Liverpool and then overrun in a 4-2 home loss to Wolverhampton, both in the league. The pressure on Pochettino had ramped up, with even the wife of defender Thiago Silva appearing to call out the Argentine when she posted on X, formerly Twitter, at the end of the Wolves game: “It’s time to change. If you wait any longer it will be too late.”

Chelsea’s players delivered a performance to make their manager proud, with first-half goals by Conor Gallagher and Nicolas Jackson coming before an exquisite free kick from Enzo Fernandez in the 54th that curled beyond his fellow World Cup winner from Argentina, Emi Martinez.

Fernandez celebrated by taking off his shirt and pointing to his name on the back of it.

“It wasn’t just the manager — everyone associated with the club needed that today,” Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell said.

Villa has been virtually impregnable at its own stadium this season but the hosts couldn’t live with Chelsea’s intensity. Their consolation came in the first minute of stoppage time through substitute Moussa Diaby.

Chelsea, which has reached the English League Cup final against Liverpool on Feb. 25, will host second-tier Leeds in the fifth round — or last 16 — of the FA Cup three days later.

Nottingham Forest also advanced in a replay — and was rewarded with a home match against Manchester United — after beating second-tier Bristol City 5-3 in a penalty shootout. The game finished 1-1 at the end of extra time.

American goalkeeper Matt Turner made the only save of the shootout, keeping out Sam Bell’s shot. Taiwo Awoniyi converted the clinching spot kick.


Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80


AP soccer: https://ift.tt/hyYtIzd

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