Fernando Torres took his tally for the season to 13 as Rafael Benitez’s Chelsea booked their spot in the League Cup semi-finals with a crushing 5-1 win against Leeds United at Elland Road.
Chelsea were later paired with fellow Premier League side Swansea City in the last four. The first leg is at Stamford Bridge while League Two Bradford City meet Aston Villa at Valley Parade in the first leg of the other semi on the week commencing January 7. The second legs are due to be contested a fortnight later.
Chelsea fell behind to a swift counter-attacking movement that saw Luciano Becchio score on 36 minutes. They responded with a performance of real gusto on a saturated evening that highlighted the gulf in class between the top of the Premier League and the Championship.
Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Torres with his sixth goal since Benitez replaced Roberto di Matteo as Chelsea manager simply overwhelmed Neil Warnock’s side.
Much had been made of the traditional bitter rivalry between these sides before the match, but it all turned into a bit of a damp squib as Chelsea showed why they are strong favourites to carry off the League Cup, which is known as the Capital One Cup this season.
Chelsea had covered an estimated 12,450 miles in 10 days when you consider their 3-1 win at Sunderland in the Premier League and their 1-0 defeat to Corinthians in the Club World Cup final in the Japanese city of Yokohama last week before travelling to Leeds for a match that always stirs emotions among fans of these respective clubs.
They had not met since the days of the Premiership when Jesper Gronkjaer scored in a 1-0 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge over eight years ago.
Chelsea are a couple of steps nearer to an appearance at Wembley, and rightly so having proved their worth in trying circumstances.
Leeds managed to live with the visitors in the first half mainly due to a number of high balls into the heart of the Chelsea defence that caused some consternation.
They struck first with a goal of some quality as David Luiz bled possession in the Leeds half. Jerome Thomas broke at speed before sweeping the ball across the face of the visiting goal at pace for Becchio to finish with his 16th goal of the season.
Leeds could have moved two goals clear at half-time when Tom Lees headed over from an El-Hadji Diouf before half-time.
Chelsea were level only a few seconds into the second half when Mata saw a shot somehow elude the home goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown when a save seemed likelier.
It was a bitterly disappointing outcome for Ashdown, who had showed his agility in unearthing several outstanding saves to halt a couple of Frank Lampard efforts and one from Moses.
Leeds were winded and fell behind on 64 minutes when Ivanovic powered a header into the net from a Lampard corner. They conceded again moments later when Mata picked out Moses to smash a powerful drive low into the rigging with the pace of the shot proving too much for Ashdown.
With the home fans dampened in more ways than one, Chelsea moved 4-1 clear as Luiz picked out substitute Hazard who slipped the ball wide of the stranded Ashdown on 81 minutes with the Leeds players tiring.
Torres completed a job well done by Chelsea three minutes later when he finished a Hazard cutback after Ashdown had dived to repel a Lampard shot.
Interestingly enough, the only time Chelsea played Swansea in the League Cup was in 1964/65, the same season Bradford City last met Aston Villa.