Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham who Super Eagles’ handlers pursued without success three years ago on Sunday grabbed a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over second-tier Luton Town to book the Premier League side’s place in the FA Cup fifth round away to Barnsley.
Chelsea took the lead in the 11th minute when a quick throw-in caught Luton’s defence napping, allowing Timo Werner to make a run down the right channel and cut the ball back for Abraham who fired a low shot past goalkeeper Simon Sluga.
Abraham doubled the lead six minutes later when he flicked a header from Reece James’ cross past Sluga, whose indecisiveness after coming off the line saw him stranded as the ball sailed over him into the net.
Luton pulled one back on the half-hour mark when Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga failed to keep out Jordan Clark’s low effort which squeezed between his hand and leg into the net.
But Chelsea began to dominate in the second half and the introduction of Callum Hudson-Odoi had an instant impact as his one-two with Billy Gilmour allowed him to fire the ball into the six-yard box for Abraham to get his third with a simple tap-in.
Werner had the chance to make it 4-1 with a penalty after he was fouled by Clark but the German, who has scored one goal in his last 15 appearances, saw his shot well saved by Sluga.
Manager Frank Lampard acknowledged that the misfiring forward will feel disheartened but said it will be up to him and the team to lift his spirits so he can get back to scoring ways.
The Germany international, who cost the club around 50 million euros (S$80.8 million), has looked low on confidence in recent weeks with his only recent strike against fourth-tier Morecambe in the Cup.
“I’m disappointed for him as Timo gave a lot with his performance today,” Lampard told reporters.
“He was a threat behind, his link up with Tammy, his link up with people around him, it (the penalty miss) is just one of those things. When it’s not going for you, it can happen.
“I missed penalties, I know the feeling. I know he will feel despondent… but he shouldn’t be. It’s my job and his team mates’ job to lift him and he will be fine.”
Arrizabalaga got a rare start and, although he made a mistake for Luton’s goal, Lampard said that was due to a “moment of complacency” from the team and pointed out that the Spaniard made amends after the break.
“On the flip side of that, Kepa makes a really top save in the second half to make sure it doesn’t go to 2-2,” he said.
“It’s very easy for people to focus on that but Kepa hasn’t been playing regularly. Today he’s come in – he’s been training excellently and is a good goalkeeper – and we can give him that one.”
Chelsea’s next opponents Barnsley beat fellow Championship side Norwich City 1-0 on Saturday.