A first half hat-trick from Oscar helped Premier League champions Chelsea remorselessly dump MK Dons out of the FA Cup, winning 5-1 at stadium:mk on Sunday.
The Brazilian had already missed two sitters in front of the record-breaking crowd before firing the Blues ahead after 15 minutes. While everything appeared to be going to script for the visitors, they hadn’t accounted for Darren Potter’s ad-lib, firing in an equaliser after a wicked deflection off Nemanja Matic six minutes later.
Eden Hazard hit the post before Oscar completed his first half hat-trick - the pick of the bunch coming two minutes before the break with a pearler into the top corner to complete his trio.
Hazard won and converted a penalty and teed up substitute Bertrand Traore as Chelsea flexed their muscles in the second half, making no mistakes in ensuring their name would be in the hat for the fifth round draw.
Karl Robinson described the encounter as ‘a free game’ for Dons, but named as strong as side as he could against the Premier League champions. Dean Bowditch led the line in the absence of Nicky Maynard, who was only fit enough for a place on the bench. Kyle McFadzean returned from suspension, while Rob Hall was ineligible to face parent club Bolton last weekend and took over on the right flank.
Chelsea’s problematic Premier League defence has prompted Guus Hiddink to concentrate on heavily on winning the FA Cup and that desire for silverware was reflected in the Blues’ starting 11, littered with household names.
And four combined after just three minutes to show MK Dons they were in no mood to mess around. Josh Murphy gave the ball away on half way to Nemanja Matic, who instantly unleashed Eden Hazard. The Belgian raced forwards and looked set to pull the trigger, but instead slid in Oscar. Spotting Diego Costa unmarked on the penalty spot, he picked him out for what looked like a simple finish but David Martin made a miraculous save, flying off his line to get a crucial block.
Hazard and Oscar were at the heart of another great Chelsea move three minutes later, but the latter fluffed his lines, miscuing his finish and screwing it wide.
He missed another sitter within the opening 15 minutes, but Oscar would finally get his reward and it came courtesy of another MK Dons defensive error. Failing to hold the ball on the edge of his own box, Kyle McFadzean lost out to Diego Costa who generously drew out Martin only to lay it off to Oscar who was left the easiest of finished to put the Blues into the lead.
Dons though weren’t over-awed by the opponents and when in possession, looked solid and even threatening at times. Murphy was having some joy against Branislav Ivanovic, while Rob Hall and Samir Carruthers
And their persistence paid off when Hall and Jake Forster-Caskey combined on the left to pick out Darren Potter alone 20 yards out. His strike took a wicked deflection off Matic, looping the ball up and over keeper Thibaut Courtois to equalise.
Chelsea though looked like they could score whenever they wanted but somehow were their own worst enemies. Hazard came unstuck to a wonderful save from Martin, who tipped the Belgian’s strike onto the post as he went through one-on-one, and Diego Costa pinched one off Oscar’s toe as he slid across the face of goal.
Oscar looked in goal-scoring mood though, and doubled the lead in the 32nd minute. Rolling in behind the Dons defence once more thanks to a pinpoint pass from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he neatly found the net past the outstretched hand of Martin.
The Brazilian would be taking home the match ball before the half was done as he wrapped up a remarkable hat-trick three minutes before the interval with the pick of the bunch. Taking the ball across the edge of the box, Oscar let rip from 18 yards to wrong foot Martin and spear one into the top corner.
With the result now fairly secure, Chelsea took their foot off the gas in the second half. Still very much in control, they weren’t attacking with the same pace and desire as in the opening period, but they were gifted a chance to build a three goal cushion seven minutes after the restart when Potter tangled with Hazard, sending the Chelsea man sprawling in the area. Referee Jonathan Moss had no choice but to award the penalty, which Hazard converted himself, sending Martin the wrong way.
Chelsea got their fifth nine minutes later through substitute Bertrand Traore, with Hazard once again at the heart of the move. Not giving up on a long ball, Hazard waited patiently for Traore to catch up and he did so with aplomb, side-footing home from 15 yards into the bottom corner.
The gulf between the clubs couldn’t have been summed up any better than in the 64th minute when Hiddink made his second and third substitutions, replacing Hazard and Oscar with Willian and Pedro, while Jonny Williams waited for his chance alongside them, replacing Murphy.
Dons remained spirited though but the class of their opposition was simply too much for them to contend with. With internationals at every turn and Cesc Fabregas orchestrating in the absence of Hazard, Dons struggled to get on the ball for long.
They did threaten a little late on as Daniel Powell danced through the Chelsea defence, only to be denied a wondergoal by the feet of Courtois.
Defiant to the end though, Dons were cheered off the field by the 22,000 home fans, unashamed in defeat.
Referee: Jonathan Moss
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Spence, McFadzean, Walsh, Potter, Forster-Caskey, Carruthers (Powell 82), Murphy (Williams 67), Hall, Bowditch (Maynard 76)
Subs not used: Cropper, Hodson, Kay, Church
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Baba, Matic, Fabregas, Oscar (Willian 64), Loftus-Cheek, Hazard (Pedro 64), Diego Costa (Traore 56)
Subs not used: Begovic, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Mikel
Booked: Terry, Potter, Walsh, Spence