Stunning, absolutely stunning!
A tremendous performance from Phil Parkinson’s men deservedly earned them a place in the FA Cup fifth round and a major scalp against the country’s best team at the moment in time. Gary Cahill headed the Blues ahead midway through the first half before Ramires doubled the lead.
Jon Stead’s fabulous strike just before the interval halved the deficit and three second half goals without answer from Filipe Morais, Andy Halliday and Mark Yeates in the second half made sure of what is one of the greatest FA Cup shocks in recent times.
The Bantams kept with the same side that had defeated Millwall in their third round replay but Parkinson interestingly chose to play Stead as a lone striker, with Billy Knott playing in an attacking midfield role and James Hanson supporting from the left flank.
City started the game excellently and tried to ask questions of a Chelsea defence known for their organisational skills and rigidity but it was the hosts who had the first genuine chance of the game. Mohamed Salah did well to keep the ball in play and he cut the ball back to Didier Drogba who hammered a first time shot which went wide of the target.
The Bantams seemed somewhat spurred on by this opening and Gary Liddle had a decent attempt on goal; it was Kurt Zouma, a young centre back, with a seemingly bright future in the game and given a start by Jose Mourinho, who headed Filipe Morais’ delivery half clear as far as Liddle who saw his attempt diverted behind for a corner by Gary Cahill.
There was a big chance that was presented to the visitors’ and specifically Andrew Davies; Morais curled a corner into the area, Davies powered a header towards goal at the near post and Petr Cech, probably the best second choice goalkeeper on the planet, made a save that justified his quality.
Oscar was given a start, to some people’s surprise due to the fact Chelsea face Liverpool and Manchester City over the course of the next week, and it was he who had the next chance. The talented Brazilian midfielder began the move and he ended it with a low shot from 20 yards that crept inches wide of the bottom corner.
The opening goal did come though and it was Chelsea who got it just a couple of minutes after Oscar’s near miss. It was his corner to the near post which was neatly flicked into the back of the net by Gary Cahill, 22 minutes into the contest.
Didier Drogba almost doubled his side’s lead just moments later; after receiving a pass and turning into space magnificently, he curled a shot towards the corner from a tight angle which was superbly tipped round the post by Ben Williams.
Jose Mourinho’s men were beginning to get real control of the game and they got their second goal in the 38th minute; Ramires caught Morais in possession of the ball and he surged forward before playing a neat one-two with Salah before calmly slotting the ball past Williams vis the inside of the post.
With City fans perhaps fearing the worst at this stage, Jon Stead found a chink in Chelsea’s armour to give his side a glimmer of hope. Morais delivered a cross into the area that was knocked down by Andrew Davies into the path of Billy Knott and the former Chelsea youngster pulled the ball back for Stead who manufactured a yard for himself before thumping a fabulous shot past Cech despite the Czech goalkeeper’s best efforts to keep it out.
Early in the second half, Chelsea went close to doubling their advantage through the French duo of Loic Remy and Kurt Zouma but Petr Cech was forced into action shortly after at the other end. Hanson’s header from Morais’ corner kept Cech alert before he had to the latter’s shot over the bar after Meredith’s cross had made it’s way to him via Stead.
Billy Knott scooped a shot over the bar from just outside the area after Stead had done well to engineer a passing opportunity and pick him out unmarked for a shot but Mohamed Salah went close for the hosts down the other end shortly after when he’d cut inside from the right to unleash a left footed shot which went inches wide of the bottom corner.
The Bantams seemed to grow in confidence as the game went on, sensing a chance to get themselves back level with their Premier League opponents and Knott saw a fierce shot which looked goalbound, blocked behind for a corner by Zouma.
Cesc Fabregas was introduced as a substitute to replace John Obi Mikel who had gone off with a head injury following a collision with Knott and it was the former Arsenal and Barcelona man who beat the offside trap to carve an opening for Oscar before the latter scuffed a shot wide of the target from 15 yards out.
The equaliser came and it came through Filipe Morais, a man given his footballing education as a youngster at Stamford Bridge. James Meredith delivered a cross which was headed down by Hanson; Knott had a shot which was pushed away by Cech but pushed only into the path of Morais who made no mistake in slotting into a barely guarded goal to spark delirium behind the goal.
The goal was quickly followed by the arrival of The Blues’ main man Eden Hazard from the substitutes bench and shortly after, Drogba saw a low angled shot kept out well by Williams after he’d found himself half a yard for a shot despite the close attentions of Darby.
To a feeling of disbelief, City got the lead in the game for the first time through Andy Halliday who made no mistake when allowed the chance to shoot, hammering a shot from just inside the area past Cech. Drogba headed wide on the stretch shortly after before Zouma,now operating as a makeshift forward, blazed over the bar from close range after Ramires had centred the ball into his path.
The 4th official showed a minimum of seven additional minutes at the end of the ninety and it seemed the longest 7 minutes ever experienced but after defending doggedly to preserve the lead, City counter attacked and added unthinkable gloss to the scoreline. Jon Stead, who had a magnificent performance, as he continues to become a widely admired player amongst the Bradford supporters, held the ball up in the Chelsea 18 yard box before threading a pass through to Mark Yeates, who made no mistake one-on-one with Cech, slotting into the far corner.
The full time whistle sparked pandemonium in the away end and, on the pitch and in the away dug out as City had produced a victory which seemed unimaginable prior to kick off. I’m sure you’re reading this report still in sheer disbelief - Phil Parkinson and his men should fear nobody in the next round after today, seeing off the best current English team and one of the best in world football.