With a hard-fought 1-0 victory on Thursday at Championship side Barnsley, Chelsea reached the FA Cup quarterfinals with a second-half goal from Tammy Abraham.
From their last Premier League line-up, the Blues began with 10 new faces and failed to find any rhythm in the first half as Barnsley refused to be cowed by their big-name opponents and produced the best early chances.
At the beginning of the second half, New Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel changed his side form, putting Reece James on full-back to replace Marcos Alonso and center half Antonio Rudiger for Andreas Christensen, and moving to four in defense.
“We did it well at the start of the second half and played constantly in the opponent’s half,” Tuchel said after the game.
“We scored the goal and I thought that the risk was increased, but in the small decisions we stepped down. Not enough bravery, and for a long, long time it was too deep. We clearly can play better, so yes I expected more but not in terms that I am frustrated.”
When James, fed by 19-year-old Billy Gilmour, raced into space, the decisions paid off, and his cross reached Abraham for a quick finish as the defenders of Barnsley pleaded in vain for an offside verdict.
Video replay seemed to show Abraham slightly offside, but as non-Premier League stadiums do not use it, the match did not have VAR.
“It’s never easy to come here. Give them credit that they are a good side. I knew I had to be in the right position at the right time. Coming here is never easy. Give credit to them they are a good side. I knew chances would come eventually I just had to be in the right place at the right time, chances would come eventually.”
Immediately after coming on, Barnsley substitute Michael Sollbauer almost equalized, but Abraham cleared his goal-bound flick off the line with a full-stretch header in the 78th minute.
“We know that we can compete at that level. Chelsea could have had a penalty, the goal could have been offside, they are 50/50. Tonight we go to bed with a good feeling,” said Valerien Ismael, manager of Barnsley.
The win was Chelsea’s fourth in five games since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard last month, and under the German, it was the fourth clean sheet for the Blues.
In the next round, last year’s defeated FA Cup finalists will host Sheffield United, having beaten the Yorkshire side twice this season in the league, including last week’s 2-1 away victory.