The Blues secured passage into the next round of the FA Cup as Raheem Sterling dazzled…
Chelsea booked their spot in the FA Cup fourth round after condemning Championship side Preston North End to a 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, with Raheem Sterling’s emphatic free kick being the pick of the bunch as Mauricio Pochettino’s side ran out triumphant.
Amid an insipid start to life back in the English top flight, Pochettino will be more than pleased with his side’s non-negotiable grit and determination to see out a victory, especially given Preston showed no signs of wilting under the pressure and bright lights of Chelsea’s 40,000-seater.
The hosts were in cruise control from word go but struggled to break down a stubborn Preston defense in the first half as the two entered the break level at 0-0. Galvanized by the prospect of crashing out of the FA Cup, however, meant that the Premier League outfit came out of the tunnel all guns blazing.
Armando Broja opened the scoring in the 58th minute with a glanced – yet directed – header that left Preston goalkeeper Freddie Woodman rooted to the spot. The hosts then made it 2-0, courtesy of Thiago Silva, as the unmarked Brazilian latched perfectly onto Cole Palmer’s delivery to double their lead.
Raheem Sterling’s free-kick stuns Preston
The winger was awarded Man of the Match
Shortly after, the boys in blue were at it again – this time thanks to Sterling, whose brilliant free-kick from just outside the 18-yard box left Woodman perplexed. The shot-stopper was powerless to prevent the free-kick hitting the back of the net, as Stamford Bridge erupted in celebration.
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 6, 2024
His goal-bound strike dipped over the Preston wall with ease as the 82-cap England international, who is looking to impress Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2024, notched his seventh goal across all competitions this campaign. Chelsea’s highest earner was joined by his west London teammates as he ran towards the rampant home support in jubilation – and why not? What a great strike!
The on-goal efforts continued to come for Pochettino’s side and Enzo Fernández closed the scoring in the 85th minute as the Argentine volleyed it home to make it four goals to the good for the Blues. But it was Sterling who shone, and he was duly named BBC Sport’s Man of the Match for his dazzling display throughout.