Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea: Visitors earn comfortable FA Cup win to ease pressure on Mauricio Pochettino

Enzo Fernandez scores the team's third goal from a free-kick during the English FA Cup fourth round replay
Fernandez has scored twice in the FA Cup for Chelsea this season

Chelsea emerged from the crisis that has cast a cloud over the club in stunning fashion as they comprehensively outclassed Aston Villa in their FA Cup fourth-round replay.

Villa's formidable home form this season made them firm favourites to reach the last 16 but Chelsea produced a devastating attacking display to ease the pressure on manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Pochettino's short tenure at Stamford Bridge was under severe scrutiny after the 4-2 home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday left them languishing in 11th place in the Premier League.

Chelsea's cup performances are rescuing their season, already reaching the EFL Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley on 25 February, while this was surely their best performance of the campaign against a Villa side who have lost only two games out of 16 on home territory.

Conor Gallagher set Chelsea on their way after 11 minutes with a composed right-foot finish at the Holte End, Nicolas Jackson swiftly adding a second with a neat header from Malo Gusto's cross.

Villa's hopes of a comeback were extinguished nine minutes after the interval when Enzo Fernandez curled a magnificent 25-yard free-kick into the top corner, tantalisingly away from the reach of Villa goalkeeper and fellow Argentina World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez.

Substitute Moussa Diaby pulled one back for Villa in stoppage time but it could not even be considered consolation for the home side and Chelsea now face Leeds United at Stamford Bridge in the fifth round.

Where has this Chelsea been?

Chelsea's stock has fallen so low that before kick-off talk of victory for Pochettino's side was being treated as an FA Cup shock.

And no wonder, given the current status of the two sides, with Villa in fourth place chasing Champions League football while Chelsea have been locked in a struggle to find any sort of consistency, culminating in conceding four goals against Liverpool and Wolves in their last two games.

Instead, after an uncertain start, the visitors produced a vibrant attacking display full of variety and threat to take Villa apart in what was an outstanding team performance.

Gallagher and Jackson posed a constant danger while Gusto was the game's outstanding performer at right-back.

It was also a night when Chelsea's big money midfield duo of Fernandez and Moises Caicedo finally looked the part after £220m was spent on acquiring them.

Caicedo provided a calming midfield presence while Fernandez produced a moment of the highest class with the free-kick that effectively sealed the victory.

Pochettino's position may not be under threat, with the manager saying he had received messages of support from Chelsea's hierarchy, but he needed this expensive squad to produce a big performance and this was it.

He must now hope it is the platform for more, starting at Crystal Palace on Monday evening.

Villa lose their way on night of disappointment

Hopes were high inside a noisy Villa Park at kick-off as manager Unai Emery took the acclaim walking to his technical area.

Villa, with that record of 13 wins and only two losses at home in all competitions, started in confident mood but were stunned as Chelsea found their stride and hit them with two quick goals.

It left the hosts chasing the game but their cause was not helped as they were second to so many balls, gave possession away too often and were strictly second best to a side that looked fitter and stronger.

This will be a bitter disappointment to Villa and manager Emery, who will have harboured ambitions of progress in the FA Cup after a goalless draw in the first game at Stamford Bridge.

His team will need to shrug off this result quickly as their season still has so much to offer as they aim for the top four and to make an impact in the Europa Conference League, an area which is the vastly experienced Emery's speciality.m