Football

Birmingham City 0-2 Chelsea: Player ratings

Mata opens the scoring for Chelsea. (©GettyImages)
Mata opens the scoring for Chelsea. (©GettyImages).

Life after Andre Villas-Boas got off to a steady start as Chelsea made their Premier League experience count against Championship counterparts Birmingham City in the FA Cup.

Roberto Di Matteo opted to make a few changes to the Blues' starting line-up, with Fernando Torres restored to the attack. However, the Spanish striker had another frustrating evening at St Andrews, as the visitors ran out 2-0 winners.

Juan Mata and Raul Meireles scored the goals to book Chelsea's place in the sixth round, with a home clash against Leicester City to look forward to before the end of the month.
 



BIRMINGHAM CITY


GK: Colin Doyle - 6/10

A solid first-half performance, but Doyle should have done better to prevent Mata's opener. The Birmingham stopper redeemed himself with a penalty save, and was powerless to stop Meireles' strike.

RB: Jonathan Spector - 7/10

The full-back provided a strong attacking threat down the right-flank, without ignoring his defensive responsibility. A solid performance from the American.

CB: Curtis Davies - 4/10

Responsibility must fall on Davies' shoulders for Mata's opening goal, leaving the Spaniard too much space to break the deadlock.

CB: Guirane N'Daw - 5/10

An assured performance, but N'Daw was guilty of conceding the penalty (missed by Mata) after a clumsy foul on Torres in the box.

LB: Pablo Ibanez - 6/10

Defensively sound for the majority of the game, making one vital block to stop Mata early in the second-half.

RM: Adam Rooney - 6/10

Worked well down the right with Spector and provided plenty of service to Nikola Zigic, before being subbed in the second half.

CM: Jordan Mutch - 6/10

A solid game in the middle of the park - his only real blemish was a missed opportunity in the closing stages after breaking through one-on-one.

CM: Morgaro Gomis - 6/10

Successfully broke up play in midfield, passing the ball well with a consistent supply line to Birmingham's forwards.

CM: Wade Elliott - 6/10

Lively in the middle of the park, providing plenty of support for Zigic up front. Kept the ball moving forward, dragging defenders out and creating space for his teammates.

LM: Nathan Redmond - 5/10

A quiet game for the promising teenager, who struggled to make an impact on the game. Gave Chelsea right-back Branislav Ivanovic little to worry about.

ST: Nikola Zigic - 6/10

Caused plenty of problems for David Luiz and Gary Cahill, providing a constant aerial threat in attack. Faded in the second-half.

SUBS

Chris Burke - n/a

Marlon King - 5/10



CHELSEA


GK: Petr Cech - 7/10

Kept the hosts at bay on numerous occasions with vital saves, including one particularly acrobatic effort to deny Zigic. Commanded his area well, and deserved his clean sheet.

RB: Branislav Ivanovic - 6/10

Little was asked of Ivanovic defensively, but he did provide some service when attacking down the right.

CB: David Luiz - 6/10

Struggled to cope with the aerial presence of Zigic, but improved after the break with better communication with central defensive partner Cahill.

CB: Gary Cahill - 6/10

Like Luiz, struggled in the air, but was more assured on the ground and successfully marshalled the rest of the defence.

LB: Ryan Bertrand - 5/10

The 22-year-old was exposed down the left flank, and struggled to cope with the combined threat of Spector and Rooney.

CM: Ramires - 7/10

Provided an assist for Mata's opener, and buzzed around midfield all evening. An impressive all-round display.

CM: John Obi Mikel - 7/10

Solid in the holding midfield role, breaking up play well and providing a number of key passes to start Chelsea's attacks.

CM: Raul Meireles - 6/10

Had a quiet evening until Chelsea gained the lead, and after that came into the game, finishing strongly with an impressive strike from outside the box.

RW: Salomon Kalou - 5/10

Quiet game for the Ivorian who was perhaps seen as the surprise inclusion in Di Matteo's starting XI - picked ahead of the in-form Daniel Sturridge.

LW: Juan Mata - 8/10

Creative influence involved in almost every Chelsea attack. Mata opened the scoring, and despite later missing a penalty he remained bright throughout. His energy and determination inspiring his teammates to victory.

ST: Fernando Torres - 5/10

Several more missed chances to add to the out-of-sorts striker's collection. Won the penalty but turned down the opportunity to take it, after missing one guilt-edged chance from close-range.

SUBS:

Frank Lampard - n/a

Came on to shore up the midfield and see the game out.

Michael Essien - n/a

Arrived late in the game, with little time to really make an impact.

Daniel Sturridge - 5/10

Missed a good opportunity to add to Chelsea's lead, after stumbling over Torres back-post cross.

Topics:
Football
Chelsea
Birmingham
FA Cup

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