Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea: 5 hits and flops as Enzo Fernandez scores incredible free-kick in comprehensive win | FA Cup 2023-24 


Chelsea saw off Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park on Wednesday (February 7) in their FA Cup fourth round replay, ending their three-game winless run across competitions.

Coming off heavy losses to Liverpool (4-1) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-2) in the Premier League, the Blues were under pressure but didn’t wilt.

Conor Gallagher opened the scoring after 11 minutes with a sublime effort into the top corner after collecting a pass from Noni Madueke from inside the box. In the 21st minute, Nicolas Jackson made it 2-0, heading a cross from Malo Gusto beyond Villa custodian Emiliano Martinez.

With the game almost in the bag, Enzo Fernandez made it certain with a third of the evening, whipping in a wonderful free-kick from 30 yards out past his FIFA World Cup 2022-winning compatriot.

Villa, who mustered 15 shots in the game, lacked the cutting edge to make it count. Moussa Diaby pulled one back in stoppage time, but it was too little too late.

Chelsea next face Championship side Leeds United in the fifth round on February 28 at Stamford Bridge. On that note, here are the five hits and flops from the game:

Hit: Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea)

While he wasn’t necessarily the best player on the field, Enzo Fernandez scored the best goal of the night, whipping an unstoppable free-kick beyond his Argentina teammate Emiliano Martinez to add gloss to the scoreline.

Fernandez was heavily involved in their attacking moments, linking up to devastating effect with his attacking cohorts and sending in a few long balls to puth Villa back.

However, his best moment of the game was obviously the free-kick, skillfully lifting it over the wall and into the top left corner from almost 30 yards out.

Flop: Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa)

Good players can have off days, and Wednesday night was one such occasion for the talented Youri Tielemans.

Among the scorers in Villa’s 5-0 thrashing of Sheffield United at the weekend, Tielemans was supposed to play a key role for the Villans against Chelsea, but the Belgian cut a rather peripheral figure.

Tielemans managed no shot on goal, didn’t make a cross and completed only 12 passes in over 70 minutes of action. He was not aat his best when his side dearly needed him.

Hit: Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea)

Nicolas Jackson made his first start for Chelsea since returning from Senegal’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations campaign and ended up on the scoresheet. He turned home a header from close range and offered plenty of attacking impetus.

A havoc on the left flank with his industry and adventure, Jackson took the game to Villa with his electric runs. One such moment led to Chelsea’s opener. The 22-year-old raced forward before squaring it to Noni Madueke, who fed Conor Gallagher to fire home.

Ten minutes later, Jackson made it 2-0 by directing his header beyond Martinez, connecting with a cross from Malo Gusto. The Senegalese ace finished with four key passes and won as many ground duels to cap off a stunning performance on his return to club football.

Flop: Clement Lenglet (Aston Villa)

Aston Villa shipped in two open goals, and Clement Lenglet was completely powerless for both.

Cole Palmer smartly dragged him aside in the build-up to the first, allowing Gallagher to slot one home, while the cross for the second was a bit too high for Lenglet to clear.

The Frenchman hasn’t been at his best lately. He was outmaneuvered against Newcastle, who also scored thrice at Villa Park last week, before the Blues drifted past him with relative ease.

Hit: Malo Gusto (Chelsea)

Even after the nightmare against Wolverhampton, Malo Gusto retained his place in Chelsea’s XI but made it count with a much-improved performance. An attacking menace down the right, Gusto gave Villa’s defence plenty to think about and also bagged an assist for Jackson’s goal with a lovely cross.

Madueke released Gusto on the right, and the Frenchman adjusted himself well before making a first-time cross, which found Jackson inside the box. He made an equally telling impact at the other end, with two clearances, one interception and a tackle.

Edited by Bhargav

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