Chelsea 6 Macclesfield Town 1: Lampard eases pressure on Chelsea

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The Independent Online

A record win under Jose Mourinho and a hat-trick for Frank Lampard as Chelsea moved into the last 32 of the FA Cup. And yet the pervading feeling after the dismissal of Macclesfield Town, 89 places below the Premiership champions in the League pyramid, was still that something is not quite right at Stamford Bridge.

The score-line was given a rich gloss by the dismissal of Macclesfield's 21-year-old goalkeeper, Tommy Lee, and the League Two side ended up with their centre-half in goal - and down to only nine men with one of the three substitutes used departing early with a back injury.

But the problem was the Chelsea team-sheet. Mourinho rested his best two players, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba, along with Claude Makelele, but otherwise fielded virtually his strongest available line-up. It did not make sense while Andrei Shevchenko played the full 90 minutes and still did not score. That Mourinho felt moved to play such a team maybe said as much about his desire to install some confidence in his players as, perhaps, the growing pressure he is under. Goals and a convincing win, no matter the opposition, were needed.

That Mourinho will now go into the League Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday against more League Two opposition, Wycombe Wanderers, without a recognised central defender will cut no ice in the Chelsea boardroom. This is his squad; these are (with perhaps the exception of Shevchenko) his players.

Against Wycombe Essien will join Paulo Ferreira in the heart of the defence. John Terry and Khalid Boulahrouz are injured while Ricardo Carvalho - at fault for Macclesfield's goal - is suspended. Mourinho decided to play Ashley Cole against Paul Ince's side. He got booked and will now miss the League match against Wigan Athletic.

Lampard was due a rest but played because Lassana Diarra turned up late for the pre-match team meeting. Another problem for Mourinho to solve. The England midfielder lashed in his first goal from close range but it was his second and third that proved crucial. After the impressive John Murphy had equalised for Macclesfield, Lampard immediately restored Chelsea's lead with an opportunistic strike and then stroked home the penalty.

Following Lee's dismissal and with no substitute goalkeeper, Macclesfield, organised and confident and giving Chelsea a few headaches, had little chance. Shaun Wright-Phillips steered the ball in, John Obi Mikel drilled his first Chelsea goal and Carvalho completed the scoring.

"I am laughing quite a lot about it because also in my country was written in a couple of papers: the dark moment of Jose Mourinho," the Chelsea manager said afterwards. "The dark moment of my career as manager is three draws," he added. True enough but one thing the Special One should not forget is that, with Roman Abramovich as his paymaster, his is also a Special Case.

Goals: Lampard (16) 1-0; Murphy (40) 1-1; Lampard (41) 2-1; Lampard pen (51) 3-1; Wright-Phillips (68) 4-1; Mikel (82) 5-1; Carvalho (86) 6-1.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Hilario; Geremi, Ferreira, Carvalho, A Cole (Woods, 79); Lampard (Morais, 71), Mikel, Bridge; Wright-Phillips, Shevchenko, Kalou (Sahar, 76). Substitutes not used: Kalambay (gk), Sinclair.

Macclesfield Town (4-4-2): Lee; Regan, Morley, Swailes, McIntyre; Heath (Miles, 59), Navarro, Hadfield (Tolley, 73), Bullock; Murphy, McNeil (Jennings, 52). Substitutes not used: Tipton, Reid.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Chelsea Mikel, Shevchenko, A Cole; Macclesfield Town Navarro.

Sent Off: Lee (48).

Man of the match: Murphy.

Attendance: 41,434.

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