Chelsea are safely through to the fifth round of the FA Cup after a resounding win against our west London neighbours.
It was a long time coming, taking until Juan Mata’s 54th minute strike from outside the area to put us ahead for the first time in 140 minutes against our League One opposition, but as soon as the Spaniard had struck Chelsea looked well in control.
In the first half we had dominated, with Oscar hitting a post and Frank Lampard volleying wide, but both would be heavily involved in a fruitful second period, as the Brazilian flicked home to double the lead with just over 20 minutes to go, and then Lampard struck Chelsea goal 199 of his career to put the game firmly beyond the Bees. John Terry, back in the side from the start, headed a late fourth to put the gloss on a pleasing afternoon at the Bridge.
We can now look forward to visiting Middlesbrough in the fifth round, but first, there is Sparta Prague and the Europa League to contend with on Thursday.
Terry was recalled for some match action Rafael Benitez said the defender badly needs following a reaction to his knee injury, with Branislav Ivanovic switching to right-back to accommodate the captain.
Also back in the side was Victor Moses, now an African champion, though the game was deemed too soon for his Nigerian compatriot John Mikel Obi. Demba Ba, cup-tied in Europe, replaced Fernando Torres up front.
Brentford’s Adam Forshaw brought the game’s first moment of excitement with a quick burst forward and snapshot that bounced past Petr Cech’s right-hand post, and shortly afterwards Clayton Donaldson headed tamely wide.
Sandwiched between those incidents, Chelsea almost took the lead when Moses was fouled out on the right flank, allowing Mata to cross and Ivanovic to head towards goal, unfortunately his effort dropping just past the far post. Ba produced a similar result from Oscar’s cross, and then the Brazilian saw his own effort deflected over by some brave Brentford defending.
They might not have brought an opening goal, but the first 20 minutes had given enough encouragement to think the Blues should be able to get the job done in regular time.
Lampard and David Luiz both shot waywardly, and then some brilliant link-up play from David Luiz, Moses and Mata put Oscar in to score, but at the crucial moment he slipped and instead his shot bounced out of play off the outside of the post.
Brentford’s goal was living a charmed life, but the visitors could have taken the lead themselves five minutes from the break when David Luiz fouled Forshaw on the edge of the box. The midfielder struck the resulting free-kick straight into the wall, and then saw his follow up blocked.
Three minutes later Lampard had a golden opportunity to become Chelsea’s all-time top FA Cup goalscorer, but his 26th in this competition evaded him as he volleyed Ivanovic’s low centre wide.
The opening stages of the second period brought no difference to the action, with Chelsea pressing for an opener and Brentford bravely resisting.
It nearly came through Ivanovic’s header, which was well saved by Simon Moore in the visitors’ goal, and then a series of blocks denied the Blues, but nothing could stop Juan Mata’s low thunderbolt from giving us the lead after 53 minutes.
A long Cech clearance was nodded down and the Spaniard pounced on it, 30 yards from goal, and strode forward with a touch into space before smashing the ball into the bottom corner of the net. For the first time in the tie, we were in front.
Brentford introduced attacking midfielder Harry Forrester immediately as they sought to get level, but it was Chelsea who would score again, through Oscar.
Substitute Eden Hazard nicked the ball away from a striped shirt and slipped in Ivanovic, whose low cross found the Brazilian, and Oscar sent a clever flick through his legs and under the goalkeeper to double the advantage.
The game was won and now it was a case of how many goals the rampant Blues would score. Another break found Mata inside the area and when he crossed Lampard was on hand to volley home a third goal to break Bobby Tambling’s Cup record. He was now just three behind the former striker’s all-time club total.
Nine minutes from time the excellent Oscar turned and crossed to the far post for Terry to head in from a tight angle, and although it meant little in the game, the defender was visibly delighted to be on the scoresheet once more after a frustrating few months.
That was the final goal of the game, though in injury time Gary Cahill almost added a fifth. Now it will be on to Middlesbrough in the fifth round for a place in the last eight of the competition we just love to win.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Cole; David Luiz, Lampard (Bertrand 80); Moses (Hazard 64), Mata (Benayoun 75), Oscar; Ba.
Unused substitutes Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Torres.
Goals Mata 53, Oscar 67, Lampard 71, Terry 80
Booked Ivanovic 68
Brentford (4-5-1): Moore; Logan, Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Forshaw (Saunders 77), Adeyemi, Diagouraga (Reeves 73), Douglas (c), Donaldson; Trotta (Forrester 54).
Unused substitutues Lee, Barron, Hodson, Hayes
Referee Neil Swarbrick