FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: QUALITY SHOWED

Following Chelsea’s biggest ever win in an away game at Southampton, Rafael Benitez was very pleased with the way the team steadied itself after conceding first, and used its quality to overcome a top-flight side comfortably to reach the fourth round of the Cup.

A good reaction to the defeat against QPR was on order and Demba Ba was handed his debut a day after signing. Two goals from the fresh arrival rewarded the selection…

‘It is always important for a striker to score goals but more than just the goals was his contribution for the team,’ said Benitez as he considered Ba’s 90 minutes.

‘His movement and understanding of things we were wanting to do was really good. He was very clever and he could understand the movement of the players. He did everything well on the pitch.

‘I prefer to have this selection problem now than to have just one striker. It is important to have good players and different options, and Ba and Torres can compete or play together.’

On the overall performance…
‘The first half Southampton started well but little by little we were doing better, and the second half we were much better,’ noted Benitiz.

‘With the players we have, when you go one goal ahead and the opposition have to take more risks, if you have clever movement you know you will score more goals.

‘They were going forward and we had more space behind and it is always a threat to have Hazard and Mata and Moses. I am really pleased because Victor has to go to the Africa Cup of Nations but he was given permission to stay today and scored a goal.’

On Frank Lampard’s goal which drew him level with Kerry Dixon overall, and with Bobby Tambling in FA Cup goals…
‘It is a great achievement for him and hopefully he can score a lot of goals until the end of the season.

‘I will be delighted if we can carry on in all the cup competitions until the end because it means the team is doing well. Today I was trying to manage minutes with substitutions for Ivanovic and Mata, and I will try to do the same until the end of the season.

‘We have a good record in the FA Cup and as a club and as a manager, but every game is different. We are happy because we progressed and have another chance to do well, but we will see what happens in the next round.’

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins had no argument about the result and was not short on praise for the opposition from London.

‘Chelsea were very good second-half,’ he said.

‘We started brightly and scored a good goal, but the big killer blow was the goal before half-time. In the second half they demonstrated the good players they have got. Give them credit. They have good football players and a good manager and staff. Mata was exceptional.’

MATCH REPORT: SOUTHAMPTON 1 CHELSEA 5

Summary
After a slow start in which the Blues went behind, two goals from debutant Demba Ba plus strikes from Victor Moses, Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard maintained our unbeaten run in the FA Cup third round which stretches back to 1999.

It was Ba with a close-range finish who levelled the scores, with Moses putting the visitors ahead on the stroke of half-time. The second half was one-sided although Ross Turnbull pulled off a smart double save.

Ivanovic headed his goal soon after the restart and after the impressive Ba had stretched the lead, the Senegalese striker was denied a hat-trick by a good save.

Substitute Lampard from the penalty spot went level with Kerry Dixon as Chelsea’s second highest goalscorer, and at the same time joined Bobby Tambling as the club’s highest FA Cup scorer. He now has 25 goals in the competition.

Team news
It was instantly clear from the team selection that Rafael Benitiz is taking the FA Cup seriously. Back in came Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Ramires and Ashley Cole who was captain.

Demba Ba made his debut and David Luiz continued in midfield, his compatriot Ramires the one alongside him this time.

Southampton lined up with former Chelsea junior Jack Cork at right-back. Striker Rickie Lambert started on the bench so Jay Rodriguez played up front, with James Ward-Prowse coming in to their midfield for injured Ramirez.

First half
Despite having come up to the Premier League, this Southampton team were still new opposition for Chelsea but historical omens warned against any complacency with the Saints having progressed the four previous occasions we were drawn against each other in the FA Cup.

It took a long time for Chelsea to get into our stride in this third-round tie however. On six minutes Mata won a corner, Southampton cleared their area a couple of times but on the second occasion when the ball fell to David Luiz outside the box, the Brazilian sent his effort up into the dark grey sky. Moses waltzed past Cork in an attack soon after but his delivery came to nothing.

Chelsea had to defend a 14th-minute corner, headed away strongly by Ba at the near post, but the new arrival had been given little chance to show what he could do at the other end. The first 20 minutes had been nothing to write home about.

On 21 minutes the home side took the lead. There was perhaps not enough pressure on Jason Puncheon in possession but the right-midfielder played a very good diagonal pass and the Blues were in trouble. Jay Rodriguez was in behind Cahill and although Turnbull closed fast, the no. 9 kept his head to score.

Neither keeper had previously been tested but now Chelsea knew we had to improve very quickly.

Hazard drilled a curling shot only just wide on 25 minutes having been supplied by a Ramires pass, and soon after Artur Boruc in the Saints goal did well to get a fist to a Mata corner with Cahill not far away from making contact.

There was a flash of quality from Ba on half an hour when he dribbled out from a tight spot towards goal, but was dispossessed for a corner. On 34 minutes he was in the right place at the right time to put his new side level.

Hazard, who had played mostly on the right, had briefly come over to the left and was found by a precise flick by Moses. The Belgian attacked and picked out Mata in space in the area, and showing technique to drool over, our joint-topscorer in the FA Cup last season, chipped the keeper. There was every chance a defender could have cleared the ball off the line but Ba had the burst to get his leg to it inches out and make sure the ball went in.

Now Chelsea went in search of a half-time lead and Boruc in the Saints goal was shaky in dealing with shots from Moses and Azpilicueta.

Hazard was looking capable of causing problems every time he attacked down our left, and it was from that flank our second goal originated seconds before the half-time whistle.

Cole played a precise square ball into the area to Moses and from 15 yards out, the Nigerian gave Boruc no chance as he powered a shot beyond him.

Second half
A Mata corner very nearly fell to Ba in front of goal five minutes after the restart but we only had to wait one more minute to go further ahead. Mata was involved again, bringing the ball in from the left and placing his cross on to the head of Ivanovic for the Serbian to head down and in from six yards out.

The fourth goal, scored on the hour, was a model in patience and good movement. Moses and Ramires switched the play in front of the penalty area with the ball played out to Hazard, this time in space on the right. He hit a low diagonal ball into the box and Ba read it well, scoring with a sharp near-post finish.

Frank Lampard replaced Ivanovic on 64 minutes, with David Luiz dropping into defence. Marin came on for Moses eight minutes later but between those changes it took good goalkeeping at both ends to prevent goals.

Turnbull’s was a fine double stop, blocking shots from Davis and De Ridder. Then Moses crossed to the far post and Ba rose high to head down, but Boruc scrambled the ball out from on the line.

Inside the final 10 minutes, Lampard sprayed a superb ball out to Marin in space and the cross from the German was handled. It was a penalty. From the spot Lampard smashed home his milestone goal.

The two headline writers almost combined for a goal in stoppage time. Ba charged towards goal on the right and picked out Lampard on the penalty spot with a pass but the ball slipped from the midfielder’s control.

We find out our fourth-round opponents when the draw is made tomorrow (Sunday) at around 3.30pm.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Turnbull; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic (Lampard 64), Cahill, Cole (c); Ramires, David Luiz, (c); Hazard, Mata (Oscar 78), Moses (Marin 72); Ba.
Unused subs Hilario, Ferreira, Bertrand, Torres.
Scorers Ba 34, 60, Moses 46, Ivanovic 51, Lampard 82 pen.

Southampton
(4-2-3-1): Boruc; Cork, Fonte (c ) (Hooiveld 63), Yoshida, Shaw; Schneiderlin (De Ridder 54), S Davis; Puncheon (Lee 77), Ward-Prowse, Do Prado; Rodriguez.
Unused subs K Davis, Reeves, Mayuka, Lambert.
Scorer Rodriguez 21.
Booked De Ridder 77, Ward-Prowse 88.

Referee Mike Dean.
Crowd
27,813.

TEAM NEWS: SOUTHAMPTON V CHELSEA

Demba Ba makes his Chelsea debut.

The striker comes in for Fernando Torres who is on the bench with Juan Mata and Eden Hazard returning to the team. Ramires will play in deep midfield alongside fellow Brazilian David Luiz.

Ashley Cole is back in the side and is captain today, and Ross Turnbull continues in goal.

Southampton play former Chelsea junior Jack Cork at right-back and make changes up front with Rickie Lambert on the bench and Jay Rodriguez coming in. In midfield, James Ward-Prowse comes in for Ramirez who has failed to recover from injury.

Chelsea are expected to line up in the following 4-2-3-1 formation:

22 Ross Turnbull
28 Cesar Azpilicueta
2 Branislav Ivanovic
24 Gary Cahill
3 Ashley Cole (c)
7 Ramires
4 David Luiz
13 Victor Moses
10 Juan Mata
17 Eden Hazard
29 Demba Ba

Substitutes: 40 Hilario, 19 Paulo Ferreira, 34 Ryan Bertrand, 8 Frank Lampard, 11 Oscar, 21 Marko Marin, 35 Lucas Piazon, 9 Fernando Torres.

Southampton are expected to line up in the following 4-2-3-1 formation:

Boruc; Cork, Fonte (c), Yoshida, Shaw; Schneiderlin, S Davis; Puncheon, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Rodriguez;

Substitutues: K Davis, Hooiveld, Reeves, Mayuka, Lee, De Ridder, Lambert.

The referee is Mike Dean.

Follow the game via our Live Matches from 2.30pm (UK time).

BENITEZ: DOUBLE TROUBLE

Having secured the services of Senegal international Demba Ba, Rafael Benitez is confident the Senegal international and Fernando Torres can bring the best out of each other in the months ahead.

Our latest acquisition is fit and eligible for selection as the Blues begin the defence of our FA Cup crown later today against Southampton at St Mary’s, and having seen Daniel Sturridge depart for Liverpool earlier this week, the Chelsea manager is delighted to have Ba on board.

‘The main thing for me now is to manage the two strikers I have,’ said the Blues boss. ‘I’m really pleased with the situation because before there was only one option, so it’s important for me to make sure they are both in good condition and are able to compete.

‘He’s a player with experience, he had a clause and we needed a player who could compete with Fernando. He was playing every game for Newcastle, we have a player who can play for us and we don’t need to wait three months for the adaptation.

‘We were talking about the striking positions; we know Torres has been playing too many games, but we couldn’t manage him in the same way that we can manage the centre-backs because we have three of them, so each situation is different.

‘It’s good for the team to have players in different positions who can compete; it keeps them on their toes, that’s the normal way at all clubs.’

Having started strongly, the first half of the season will be remembered mostly for a premature Champions League exit and the management transition which saw the Spaniard take the reins.

Benitez will undoubtedly be looking for a more consistent spell between now and May, particularly with four trophies still to play for, and after the disappointment of Wednesday’s home defeat to Queens Park Rangers, today’s game offers the perfect opportunity for his team to lay down a marker.

‘The message is very clear, we will try to win every game and we will approach every match as if it’s the most important,’ he said. ‘It was not easy before and it won’t be easy now, but the most important thing is to take one game at a time.

‘Now we have the FA Cup, that will be our most important game, and then it’s the Capital One Cup and the Premier League.

‘I’m not the kind of manager to say we don’t care about certain competitions, that’s not my way. We will try to win them all and see where we are.

‘We know that the top four is really important for the club. We will try to win a cup but at the same time concentrate on league games, the priority is always to win trophies.’

RAMIRES: SPECIAL SILVER

Ramires had every reason to fall in love with the FA Cup last season.

His first involvement in the competition the previous year had been short-lived by recent Chelsea standards, as we exited at the fourth-round stage after a penalty shoot-out against Everton.

There was no stopping us in 2012 however and Ramires was our joint FA Cup topscorer with four goals on the way to lifting the trophy at Wembley.

With the defence of the silverware beginning today, the 25-year-old reflects on one of his most memorable competition campaigns so far, beginning with that 2-1 final win over Liverpool which is a game hard to equal in his career to date.

Though suspension kept him out of the Champions League final in Munich a couple of weeks later, Ramires was in the starting line-up at Wembley, running away with Juan Mata’s pass and firing the Blues into the lead with a near-post finish after only 10 minutes.

‘It was really special because it was a final against a big club at Wembley,’ Ramires says.

‘I try to shoot in the right place and I did that time because the goalkeeper went to the wrong side. He never expected me to shoot on that side of the goal.’

Ramires also scored at Wembley in the 5-1 semi-final rout of Tottenham, his flick over Carlo Cudicini making it 3-1 to bring some breathing space. His other two FA Cup goals came on third-round weekend when, like this season, we began against a south coast side, that time Portsmouth at home who were beaten 4-0.

One of the midfielder’s goals that day hinted at what was to come so famously later in the season at Barcelona. He raced clear and floated the ball over the Pompey keeper.

‘It was a beautiful goal but it is not like I look for beautiful goals, the only thing I want is to score goals,’ says the twice winner of Chelsea goal of the season.

‘But it was a special competition last season.We are trying to do well in all the competitions with this one but it is special when you win. Now every team that plays against us in the FA Cup, they want to beat us because we are the champions of that competition.’

In order to prevent Southampton from doing just that at St Mary’s this afternoon, more of the same from last season is very much on order with the athletic Brazilian.