Football FA Cup: Poyet's power puts paid to Hull hope

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The Independent Online
Hull City 1

Brown 38

Chelsea 6

Poyet 8, 49, 58, Sutton 30, Di Matteo 47, Edwards og 90

Half-time: 1-2 Attendance: 10,279

AFTER LAST week's woes on Wearside, Chelsea re-discovered domestic happiness on Humberside. Back from a recuperative break in Rome and returning to the North Sea coast seven days after their drubbing by Sunderland, the Premiership's European specialists left nothing to chance, rolled out the stars and - thanks largely to a hat-trick from Uruguay's Gustavo Poyet - swatted aside their Third Division challengers as if they were an irritating bluebottle.

Hull City, who had lost 5-1 at home to Liverpool earlier in the season, were left only with the consolation of a rare five-figure gate and the knowledge that they had achieved what Lazio could not... scoring against Chelsea.

Everything about the afternoon was quintessentially FA Cup. In unremitting rain, the outpost city of Hull discarded its edge-of-the-world parochial image and polished up a welcome whose sparkle contrasted with the pencil- lead sky.

Boothferry Park's six floodlight pylons stood up an inch or two prouder as their smart-suited international visitors squelched on to an immaculate playing surface for a pre-match glimpse at the real world.

Chelsea, uplifted by their resilience in Rome but still wary of indifferent domestic form, further decorated the occasion by naming a high-calibre side. With Marcel Desailly and Celestine Babayaro injured, Jes Hogh and Jon Harley stepped up; Chris Sutton and Roberto di Matteo allowed Tore Andre Flo and Dan Petrescu a rest on the bench. Otherwise, the contrasting challenges of Italy and Humberside were met with identical personnel.

With three successive wins at their collective back and a paltry away following to oppose them, Hull - who ironically had rested many of their own "stars" at York in mid-week - began perkily. Twice, in the early stages, Steve Harper, their left wing-back, got the better of Chelsea's Albert Ferrer.

On one such occasion, David Brown was a mere stud's length away from applying a fairytale finish. However, the dream appeared to be fading when, in the eighth minute, Chelsea went ahead. Poyet, having attempted to prompt Sutton into the penalty area, reacted adroitly when the ball bounced back to him and, from 30 yards, drifted a wonderful shot into the top corner.

As the afternoon grew danker and less hospitable Chelsea's overall grip became stronger. Their lead was doubled after half-an-hour. Harley flew to the byline and delivered a left-footed cross marginally behind Sutton; but the Chelsea striker, who had failed to convert an earlier chance, arched acrobatically to head home.

Uncowed, the Tigers resharpened their teeth and bit back. The Jamaican World Cup player Theodore Whitmore had already inconvenienced Ed de Goey with one slithery shot when he released Brown to circumnavigate the Dutch keeper and pull a goal back.

That, though, represented a false dawn for the underdogs whose tails were firmly back between their legs by the time the second half was a quarter-of-an-hour old. The interval was 180 seconds old when, emerging from a penalty box crowd, Hough teed up Di Matteo to curl Chelsea's third from 20 yards.

At once, Chelsea attacked again. Harley, their outstanding individual, created vast acreage for himself and his cross enabled Poyet to head beyond Bracey. With the game almost exclusively condensed inside the Hull half, Poyet completed his hat-trick, sliding in Wise's cross from close range.

Right on 90 minutes, Mike Edwards deflected Wise's speculative shot into his own net. It was Chelsea's sixth of the day.