Football: Liverpool fold as Hughes sparks Chelsea onslaught

Chelsea 4 Liverpool 2

The old warhorse is in his final years but the power, the menace, the desire burn as fiercely as ever. Mark Hughes, scourge of the Scouse, did it again yesterday as Chelsea produced the outstanding comeback of an FA Cup weekend studded with them.

Hughes' day had had the most unpromising of beginnings. Left out of the starting line-up, he sat on the bench in growing frustration as Liverpool, playing typically silky football, scored twice in the first 21 minutes and held the lead until half-time.

Then Hughes was unleashed. The atmosphere was already simmering - adding Hughes was like putting a lighted match into a powderkeg. Chelsea exploded with three goals in 13 minutes, the first scored by Hughes, the second made by him. The third came from Gianluca Vialli whose selection ahead of Hughes had, at half-time, seemed mistaken. With 15 minutes left Vialli added a fourth and Chelsea were through to a fifth-round tie at Leicester City.

In the acres of football that now cover the television landscape there occasionally comes a match which justifies all the pre-kick-off hype. This was one of those matches. It had everything bar a penalty and a sending off - and there could have been a few of those had referee Steve Dunn not kept calm amid the maelstrom.

There was bewitching skill from nimble feet and quick minds, passion and strength, good tackles, great saves, stunning goals and, inevitably, a few errors. The work-rate was astounding. Players like Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler were regularly seen helping out in defence. It was an intoxicating mix of the best of the British game and the sheen of the Continental, and it was not only the foreigners who were skilful or the British who worked hard. You could not take your eyes off it. The Spice Girls could have streaked across the deserted Shed End unnoticed.

When the dust settled, a teeming Stamford Bridge emptied and the television nation switched on the kettle, Liverpool were left to contemplate 17 days which had seen them tumble out of two cup competitions. Now, more than ever, they must maintain the League challenge.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have served notice that they have resilience to go with their skill. The team spirit, while not on a par with Wimbledon, is a far richer brew than usually associated with the club. Yet Leicester will approach the fifth round with hope. Chelsea are not yet as formidable on the road as at the Bridge.

One weakness, the absence of Michael Duberry, was quickly exposed yesterday. Jason Mc- Ateer's cross from the right seemed innocuous but Frank Sinclair missed his jump, the ball came to Stig Inge Bjornebye whose cross-shot was touched in by Robbie Fowler.

Eleven minutes later Gianfranco Zola played a bad square pass to Eddie Newton, his touch betrayed him and released Stan Collymore. Nil-two and, apparently, all over. Liverpool had not lost from a two-goal lead for 33 years.

Chelsea needed a goal and, after half an hour, Vialli should have provided it but shot over. A minute later Fowler should have sealed the game for Liverpool but headed past. McManaman also wasted a good chance but it seemed not to matter.

Enter the Welsh dragon, breathing fire. Liverpool, regular victims during his career, were unnerved. Four minutes later he held the ball up then turned in characteristic fashion to shoot low into the net. Liverpool now looked as if they had encountered a snarling dog and Chelsea, smelling their fear, went for the jugular.

Roberto di Matteo, pushed forward to harry John Barnes, had one shot saved then another blocked. Hughes was able to toe that to Zola who bent a rocket of a shot past David James.

The game see-sawed, Fowler and Zola both missing chances, before Vialli came in from the cold. As Zola found Dan Petrescu he glided in from the wing. The Romanian spotted his run, the pass and execution were perfect.

James made three excellent saves from Di Matteo and Villia but Chelsea's Azzurri would not be denied. Vialli won a free-kick on the right, Zola floated it in and Vialli, unchallenged, headed past James.

Chelsea's celebrations mirrored Newcastle's after the 5-0 eclipse of Manchester United. Newcastle did not win again for weeks; fortunately Chelsea have a few weeks to recover before the next round.

Goals: Fowler (10) 0-1; Collymore (21) 0-2; Hughes (49) 1-2; Zola (58) 2-2; Vialli (62) 3-2; Vialli (75) 4-2.

Chelsea (3-5-2): Hitchcock; Sinclair, Leboeuf, Clarke; Petrescu, Wise, Newton, Di Matteo, Minto (M Hughes, h-t); Zola, Vialli. Substitutes not used: P Hughes, Grodas (gk).

Liverpool (3-5-2): James; Kvarme, Wright, Matteo; McAteer, Redknapp, Barnes, McManaman, Bjornebye (Berger, 73); Collymore, Fowler. Substitutes not used: Carragher, Warner (gk).

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

Bookings: Chelsea: Sinclair, Wise. Liverpool: Fowler, Collymore.

Man of the match: M Hughes.

Attendance: 27,950.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing