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The FA Cup

Stamford Bridge (ATT 40,019) 8th January 2005 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: D Gallagher

Chelsea Chelsea vs Scunthorpe United Scunthorpe

Blues break Scunny hearts

By Tim Hobbs.   Last Updated: 08/01/05 2:02pm

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Scunthorpe United were left nursing a broken heart as the romance of the FA Cup did them few favours at Stamford Bridge, although it was luck rather than class that eventually told in Chelsea's 3-1 Third Round win.

For 18 minutes Brian Laws' League Two side led their millionaire hosts and even after succumbing to two cruel deflections came within inches of earning at least a Glanford Park replay.

As if falling behind to a Mateja Kezman volley and an unavoidable own goal from skipper Andy Crosby was not hard enough to take, they had three clear-cut chances to salvage the second attempt their impressive efforts deserved.

Cleveland Taylor twice could - and perhaps should - have made it 2-2 as the Iron hammered cross after cross into a Chelsea defence that creaked in the absence of kingpin John Terry.

First, Richard Kell's header back across goal dropped at the feet of the substitute striker, but with all the time in the world, never mind West London, he scuffed his volley and Carlo Cudicini made a fingertip stop low to his left.

Then, as the evergreen Peter Beagrie swung over his umpteenth inviting centre of the second half, Taylor beat young Steven Watt in the air only to see his looping header clear Cudicini's desperate dive but hit the inside of the far post.

In between, Kell clattered a far-post effort into the side-netting as Scunthorpe made a mockery of the 68 league places between them to play their part in an engrossing tie that will have told Jose Mourinho all he needs to know about the FA Cup in an instant

The Blues boss was without many of his bigger names, but still included Eidur Gudjohnsen, Didier Drogba and Kezman in a three-pronged attack, gave Joe Cole a chance to impress the watching Sven Goran Eriksson from the start and even threw new boy Jiri Jarosik on once the game appeared to be up.

But in truth, it never really was. From the moment Paul Hayes picked up Matt Sparrow's low seventh-minute cross from the right, span Alexei Smertin and drilled a clinical low finish between Cudicini's legs, the improbable was always possible - certainly for the 18 minutes Scunthorpe led.

And then lady luck, fed up with flirting with a shock, frowned furiously upon Scunthorpe. There was much to admire in Gudjohnsen's cross, Drogba's header back and Kezman's connection, but even then it needed a slight deflection off Crosby's head to beat Paul Musselwhite.

To their eternal credit, Scunthorpe refused to cave in. Andy Butler forced a flying save from Cudicini as Chelsea again struggled to defend in the air and although Joe Cole and Drogba threatened to make it 2-1 before the break, Scunthorpe held firm and halfway to dreamland.

They held their own for 13 minutes of the second half as well, before fate dealt them another bitter blow. Drogba did well to outpace Cliff Byrne down the Chelsea left and could barely believe his luck as his low cross was diverted over the line by the hapless Crosby, whose two deflections dampened an otherwise heroic performance from the skipper and his side.

Taylor's two chances of glory then came, but went just as quickly, as Chelsea seemed to sit back, satisfied they had done enough.

Mourinho clearly thought otherwise, sending on Jarosik to sample the surreal side of English football, before subjecting Scunthorpe to the Arjen Robben, to terrorise the League Two side as he has done to most Premiership opponents this season.

The Dutchman did not disappoint. A typically incisive run took him past a defender and into shooting range and although Musselwhite did well to block his low drive, and Cole's follow-up, skipper-for-the-day Gudjohnsen was on hand to make it 3-1, third time lucky for Chelsea - and Third Round unlucky for Scunthorpe.

Team NameChelseaScunthorpe United
Shots On Target64
Shots Off Target55
Blocked Shots10
Fouls Conceded68
Yellow Cards10
Red Cards00