Chelsea 3 Nottingham Forest 0
Chelsea kept up their quest for glory on four fronts with an emphatic 3-0 FA Cup success over Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge on a day when coach Jose Mourinho insisted he was not planning to quit the club.
First-half goals from Andriy Shevchenko, Didier Drogba and Mikel Jon Obi underlined Chelsea's control as they despatched Colin Calderwood's Coca-Cola League One side with the kind of nonchalance expected from the Barclays Premiership champions.
Mourinho had already given Chelsea's fans a major boost prior to the kick-off when he re-emphasised his determination to remain as coach until his contract expires in 2010.
His relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been under the spotlight this season, and there has been much speculation about who might succeed the manager should he leave the club this year.
But Mourinho said: 'I don't have to be confident. I have a contract that runs until 2010, and that's a very important thing.
'I am manager today and until the end of the season and I believe I will be manager until 2010.''
Much of Mourinho's alleged spat with the club's Russian billionaire owner has surrounded the use of misfiring Ukrainian striker Shevchenko and the lack of cash to strengthen his squad during the transfer window.
But Shevchenko, who scored twice in the 4-0 demolition of Wycombe in the Carling Cup semi-final last week, gave Chelsea the perfect start when he put them in front in the ninth minute.
Forest's hopes of pulling off a giantkilling act were dealt a massive blow when Shevchenko's shot from eight yards out took a deflection off Forest defender John Curtis and bounced into the net.
But much worse was to follow for the League One side 10 minutes later.
This time it was Drogba who ensured Forest's cup dreams were over when he sent a curling free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards.
It was the Ivorian striker's 22nd goal of the season and it effectively killed off the tie.
Forest were given little chance to show why they currently lie third in League One as Chelsea dominated in all areas.
It was a professional performance from the champions even without half of their regular midfield engine room in Michael Ballack and Claude Makelele.
Their replacements, Mikel and Lassana Diarra, gave stand-in captain Frank Lampard plenty of service.
Czech international goalkeeper Petr Cech must have enjoyed one of his most stress-free afternoons since moving to England two years ago.
The Chelsea keeper was untested by a Forest attack marshalled with ease by Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Essien.
The Premiership side constantly searched for a third goal and it arrived seconds before the end of the first half.
Forest failed to deal with Lampard's corner and the ball fell to the feet of Mikel who poked it home.
Forest's performance in the opening half was poor by their own standards but they gave Chelsea more to think about in the second period.
In the 58th minute they could have reduced the arrears when Junior Agogo just failed to reach the ball as it rolled across the face of the goal.
On the hour Chelsea made their first change of the afternoon when Drogba was replaced by Salomon Kalou.
The Ivorian was given warm handshake by the waiting Mourinho as he left the field to a standing ovation from the home fans.
Kalou made an instant impact with a fine run down the left flank only to see his cross dealt with easily by goalkeeper Paul Smith.
Forest were far more adventurous in their approach but Chelsea remained in control.
Indeed, Shevchenko should have added to his opening goal when he got clear of the Forest defence only to shoot wide of the target with just keeper Smith to beat.
In the 65th minute Kalou tested Smith with a downward header from a cross by Shaun Wright-Phillips.
A minute later Wright-Phillips sent Kalou clear down the right and when the Ivorian laid the ball back to Shevchenko, the Chelsea striker missed the target from the edge of the penalty area.
In the 67th minute, Smith just managed to keep out a swerving drive from Lampard with his knee as Chelsea continued to press for a fourth.
Essien almost achieved it 15 minutes from the end of the game but his header was cleared off the line by Curtis.
Nottingham Evening Post