Chelsea thrashes understrength Man City in FA Cup

Chelsea teammates celebrate after scoring during the English FA Cup soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester City at the Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016. (Frank Augstein/AP)

LONDON — Chelsea reached the quarterfinals of the FA Cup with a 5-1 victory against an understrength Manchester City side on Sunday, while London rivals Crystal Palace and West Ham also advanced.

Palace defeated Tottenham 1-0, and West Ham came from behind to thrash second-tier Blackburn 5-1.

At Stamford Bridge, City manager Manuel Pellegrini showed that the focus was on his side’s Champions League last 16 first-leg match against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday — handing five players their debut.

"I have 13 players (fit), I cannot take the risk to have one player more injured" Pellegrini said, when asked if he had devalued the FA Cup by fielding a weakened team. "I think we did the correct thing."

Defeat ended City’s chance of an unlikely quadruple, while Chelsea head for a quarterfinal against Everton — team it beat in the 2009 FA Cup final, during Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink’s first spell in charge.

When Chelsea took the lead after 35 minutes, it was two of Pellegrini’s senior players — rather than the youngsters — who were at fault.

Diego Costa was allowed space on the six-yard box between Aleksandar Kolarov and Martin Demichelis, and when Eden Hazard hooked the ball across goal, Costa had as much time as he liked to stoop and head powerfully past Willy Caballero.

But the lead only lasted two minutes. City forward Kelechi Iheanacho received a pass on the right and spread the ball into Chelsea’s six-yard area.

Cesar Azpilicueta tried to clear, but David Faupala stretched out a leg in anticipation and scored a debut goal.

As he celebrated with teammates in the corner of the pitch, coins were thrown at the City players from the stand where Chelsea fans are sat.

"There were coins thrown to the Man City players in their celebration," Hiddink said. "We condemn it, I condemn it strongly. Those people, they should not come into stadiums."

Faupala’s goal marked an encouraging first half for City’s youngsters but Chelsea’s experience proved too much after the break.

Hazard, whose movement and passing resembled the player who propelled Chelsea to the Premier League title last season, threaded in Willian in the 48th and he finished ruthlessly, lashing the ball fiercely past Caballero and into the far corner.

Five minutes later, Chelsea added a third when Fernandinho made a feeble attempt to clear Willian’s corner and Gary Cahill fired in from the edge of the area.

Hazard then marked his impressive display with a goal, whipping a free kick low past Caballero in the 67th before substitute Bertrand Traore scored with a header in the 89th.

It could have been a heavier defeat for City, but Caballero saved a 75th minute penalty from Oscar.

"It is a boost in the confidence for the players. We are making steps (forward)," Hiddink said. "There is not much left in the league for Chelsea, to be honest, so we focus on the games in the FA Cup."

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace dumped London rival Tottenham out of the competition.

Martin Kelly hit the decisive goal for Palace at White Hart Lane just before halftime, controlling a pass from Wilfried Zaha before firing past Michel Vorm.

Tottenham came close to equalizing in the second half through Christian Eriksen, who was denied by a smart save from Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, and Alan Pardew’s side held on for a narrow victory.

"It wasn’t our day," Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli said. "There are a lot of disappointed lads in the dressing room, but we will move on."

West Ham avoided a fifth-round upset with a 5-1 comeback victory at Blackburn.

Ben Marshall put the hosts ahead with a low, left-footed strike after 20 minutes, but Victor Moses equalized six minutes later.

Dimitri Payet then put West Ham ahead with a free kick and Emmanuel Emenike struck twice in the second half, before Payet got his second in stoppage time.

Chris Taylor was sent off for Blackburn and Cheikhou Kouyate for West Ham, both in the second half.

"After the first 20 mins we played fantastic," West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said. "We played really great football and it looked easy."

Crystal Palace is away to Reading after Sunday’s quarter-final draw, while West Ham will play the winner of Monday’s tie between Manchester United and third-tier Shrewsbury.

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