Ross Barkley came off the bench and smashed Chelsea into the semi-final of the FA Cup with a wonderful low-glancing volley half-way through the second half as the visitors overcame a dour Leicester City 1-0 at the King Power Stadium
Frank Lampard dispatched three of his kids at half-time, Reece James, Mason Mount and Billy Gilmour, the casualties in a poor opening 45 minutes.
Lampard’s belief in experience and showing no compassion to the youngsters proved decisive and the Blues dominated the second half and deserved to progress.
Chelsea were at all sixes and sevens in the opening exchanges with the Foxes cutting through the midfield and defence like a hot knife on butter. The home side’s press causing the visitors rearguard all sorts of problems.
The home side should have scored on 13 minutes when a Ben Chilwell free kick was met unchallenged by Wilfried Ndidi, but the strikers header was weak and went straight to Willy Caballero.
The Argentina goalkeeper had to dive to his left to parry away a Youri Tielemans 25-yarder on 20 minutes as the home side continued to pressure the west Londoners goal.
Seconds before the drinks break, Cagliari Soyuncu was booked by referee Mike Dean for hacking down Mason Mount.
Again another simple free-kick by Chilwell was met, unchallenged, this time by Jonny Evans, but the defender could only glance the ball wide of Chelsea’s goal.
Chelsea’s first meaningful attack saw Christian Pulisic thump a rasper from just inside the Leicester penalty area on 31 minutes, but Kasper Schmeichel produced a wonderful save to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Jamie Vardy raced clear with seconds left on he first half, but he scuffed his left-Foote well wide of Caballero’s left post.
Frank Lampard decided his midfield needed reshaping, and as a consequence he made three half-times substitutions, on came Cesar Azpilicueta for Reece James, while Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic replaced Billy Gilmour and Mason Mount.
The changes produced a sharpe improvement in performance and on 55 minutes Tammy Abraham thought he had put the boys from SW6 in front when he powered a low, left footer past Schmeichel, but the striker was a tad offside.
Chilwell saw a deep left wing cross flick off the top of the Chelsea crossbar on 59 minutes.
But on 64 minutes the visitors produced a wonder goal. Excellent interplay by Willian and Azpilicueta saw Ross Barkley take a chance by running into the penalty area, and he clipped in a low, right-footed volley past Schmeichel.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek came in for Pulisic on 72 minutes.
He was soon followed by Pedro for Willian.
Azpilicueta saved an almost certain equaliser when he managed to get his head to Soyuncu far post header and clipped the ball away fo a corner with six minutes left on the clock.
After massive pressure on Chelsea’s defence they managed to break free with Barkley forcing a great save from Schmeichel.
Next up for the Blues is a trip to the london Stadium on Wednesday when they face West Ham United in the Premier League.
Chelsea: Caballero, Rudiger, kante, Abraham, Willian, Zouma, Mount, Pulisic, James, Emerson, Gilmour
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Jorginho, barkley, Pedro, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Giroud, Azpilicueta
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Justin, Chilwell, Soyuncu, Evans, Tielemans, Vardy, Barnes, Perez, Ndidi, Praet
Subs: Morgan, Gray, Albrighton, Ward, Iheanacho, Choudhury, Mendy, Fuchs, Bennet
Referee: Mike Dean