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Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea advanced to the FA Cup quarter-finals thanks to a resounding 1-0 win over Barnsley in Oakwell, with Tammy Abraham scoring the only goal.
In a close 45 opening, it was Barnsley who had the best chances. Callum Brittain moved closer to the Tykes, but Kepa Arrizabalaga saved his effort at point blank range. Chelsea should have been awarded a penalty in the 20th minute when Abraham was unfairly brought down in the box, but Martin Atkinson kept the game going, leaving the scoreless tie at half-time.
Chelsea improved after the break, having changed form and approach. The Blues found themselves dominating scoring opportunities with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger close to scoring the first goal. But it was Abraham who found the decisive blow in the 65th minute when he nailed a Reece James cross into an empty net.
The English forward again showed his vitality at the other end when he headed brilliantly down his line to deny Barnsley a draw after a mistake by Kepa. That turned out to be the Tykes’ last clear chance, and the visitors kept moving forward.
Now, let’s take a look at the ratings of the Chelsea players.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – 6/10 – Really good save in the 10th minute to keep the game 0-0, but he had to ruin a decent performance with an error very close to a center with just over ten to play.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – 6/10 – Won the ball five times and made three punts before going into halftime. It could have had something to do with a hit to the head before the break, hopefully nothing long lasting.
Kurt Zouma (CB) -7/10 – He proved he doesn’t need Thiago Silva by his side with a very solid start. The Frenchman coped well with a brilliant-looking Barnsley frontline, making five punts and winning four antennas.
Emerson (CB) – 6/10 – Calmly assured performance on the left side of the Blues defense, rarely losing to Barnsley forwards, making four punts and two ball recoveries.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (RWB) – 6/10 – Very calm in the first half, but he looked much better after being placed by the left wing in the second. He threatened the Tykes’ bottom line and nearly found the net with a beautiful solo effort at the hour mark.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – 7/10 – He seemed much more comfortable as he assumed his role of preferred midfielder after the break, regaining possession five times.
Billy Gilmour (CM) – 10/7 – He seemed stifled in the first half, always choosing the easy pass. He took advantage of the increased freedom in the second and annoyed his opponents, eventually playing a vital role in Chelsea’s opener.
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – 6/10 – He had a wake-up call when he missed Barnsley’s opportunity in the tenth minute and then defended well, recovering five balls before being retired at half-time.
Hakim Ziyech (RW) – 5/10 – He made a couple of good touches and seemed likely to unlock a stiff Barnsley defense, but nothing went wrong for the Moroccan, who turned the ball over nine times before being intercepted.
Tammy Abraham (ST) – September 10 – He was unlucky not to receive a penalty in the first half, but managed to get on the scoreboard with the Blues’ first game. It also saved Kepa’s blushes and kept his side forward with a brilliant header off the line at the end – heroic.
Christian Pulisic (LW) – 5/10 – He couldn’t get into the game and fought the physicality of Barnsley’s defense, turning the ball four times and making only 40 touches.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 6/10 – Pretty solid after coming in, making a couple of good spaces and blocks.
Reece James (RB) – 7/10 – He looked threatening down the right after his presentation and got a good assist for Abraham’s goal.
Tino Anjorin (CM) – 6/10
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – N / A