Three goals in 10 second-half minutes set Chelsea on their way to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Preston North End at Stamford Bridge and book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
There was little sign of the second-half deluge that was approaching during an opening 45 minutes of little action, but when it arrived Preston had no answer.
First Armando Broja opened the floodgates with a fine header from Malo Gusto’s pinpoint cross, with the striker unlucky not to add to his tally as he hit the crossbar and had a shot cleared off the line in quick succession.
Chelsea’s second arrived soon enough, though, when Thiago Silva headed in Cole Palmer’s corner, and that was quickly followed by a third as Raheem Sterling fired a free-kick past the keeper.
There was time for one more late on too, when Sterling bundled his way through the defenders in the box, allowing Enzo Fernandez to finish from close range at the back post. That completed a comprehensive victory on substitute Michael Golding’s debut and Alfie Gilchrist’s first senior start.
The Blues will return to action with the first leg of Carabao Cup semi-final away at Middlesbrough on Tuesday, January 9, before the Premier League returns with a home derby against Fulham on Saturday, January 13