Match Report: Rafael Benitez hails 'sunny days' as subplots cast shadows in Chelsea thrashing of Brentford

Chelsea 4 Brentford 0

Stamford Bridge

On a fleeting glance this presents a plot simple enough to fill the pages of one of Frank Lampard's planned children's novels. It reads something like this: FA Cup holders oust stubborn underdogs on sunny Sunday and, dear readers, I volley home the third goal with a sweet finish before my old pal JT also scores to show all is sweetness and light in the blue corner of west London. Roman Abramovich was even caught smiling.

Lampard was withdrawn, to warm applause and cries of: "Sign him up", moments before John Terry, back in the side for only his third start under Rafa Benitez, nodded home the afternoon's final goal to confirm a fifth-round trip to Middlesbrough a week on Wednesday. It was a comfortable finish to an ultimately comfortable afternoon but nothing is that simple at Stamford Bridge, certainly not when Banquo's ghost, or Avram Grant, is warming himself in the sunshine. There is layer upon layer of plot and subplot to work through here. Benitez and Terry, Benitez and the supporters, Abramovich and Lampard, now with 199 Chelsea goals to his name but no sign of a new contract, and Abramovich and Benitez. This is Russian novel territory.

"It doesn't matter if I see [Abramovich] or not," said Benitez when asked afterwards if the owner had come to say hello. "The main thing is the team doing well, winning games, clean sheet, four goals. Everything is fine. Sunny days."

On the sunny side of the ground, Grant had paid his respects to Abramovich, clad in a Chelsea Champions League jacket on one of his rare recent visits to the ground, and settled down to watch a first half in which Chelsea huffed and puffed to no avail. Sunday dinners had barely been digested before the first chants for Roberto di Matteo rang around the ground. A placard was displayed telling "Mr A" that Benitez is not the right man for the job.

"I am really pleased to be here, really pleased to work with this group of players, working very hard," said Benitez. "I will try to win every game and see what happens. I know that the priority is to be in the top four and if we can progress in the competitions until the end much better."

There were muted mumblings of discontent when the opening half finished goalless and with little for the home support to cling on to as Brentford, urged on by manager Uwe Rösler, busied themselves in disrupting their hosts' sluggish attempts to discover any rhythm. Twice Lampard scuffed shots when offered presentable opportunities to score, otherwise he was rarely in the game.

Oscar stumbled when given the clearest opening of the half and his mishit shot bounced off a post. Yet it was Brentford, seventh in League One, who had the ball in the net first. Mar-cello Trotta rolled the ball home but not before the referee, Neil Swarbrick, had blown for a foul on the impressive Adam Forshaw, once of Everton.

"With a little bit more fortune, a little bit more sensitivity from the referee we could have had the lead and that is what you need in games when you are massive underdogs," reflected Rösler, who admitted he had been surprised by Chelsea's team-sheet. "He put out a very physical team – Ba, Luiz, Lampard, Ivanovic and two centre-halves – I didn't expect that."

Chelsea were better from the start of the second period, with Juan Mata at the heart of most that was good. The home side at last began to take possession for long periods and an opening goal inside nine minutes put an end to any discontented rumblings in the stands. It came via route one; Petr Cech's punt, Demba Ba's knockdown and an immaculate finish from Mata, low and true from outside the box. It was the Spaniard's 17th of the season.

Rösler acknowledged that was that. His team had expended so much first-half energy that once they went behind there was little they could do to regain a foothold in the game. Oscar back-flicked in the second after Eden Hazard had won the ball in midfield and Branislav Ivanovic crossed low, but Simon Moore, Brentford's keeper, should have kept it out.

Three minutes later came Lampard's moment. Mata made it, haring down the left and picking him out six yards out. It was his 26th goal in the FA Cup, moving him ahead of Bobby Tambling as the club's record scorer in the competition. He is now on 199, three behind Tambling as the overall record scorer.

"He is doing well, he is scoring goals and hopefully he can score another 15 before the end [of the season]," said Benitez. "It will be good for the team, good for him, good for everyone."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test