Chelsea beat Newcastle 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, where Michy Batshuayi’s first-half double and Marcos Alonso’s stunning free-kick secured a place place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Batshuayi’s goals had put the Blues well in control after an unconvincing opening 45 minutes, but Alonso curled home a third in the latter stages of a much-improved second half to seal the win.
Praise for Batshuayi
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said Batshuayi has made huge progress on the tactical side of his game after seeing the striker score twice in the win over Newcastle.
Conte said: “We are talking about a young player with great potential and today I showed that the most important thing for me is the present, not the future otherwise I would have taken other choices.
“Michy is a player working with us for one year and half and he has improved a lot in many tactical situations.
“We are talking about a powerful player; he is a strong player physically and for sure he has a lot of space for improvement.”
Benitez: Newcastle were unlucky
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Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez felt his side were unlucky to be trailing at the interval against Chelsea.
The former Blues interim boss saw his Magpies side have the better of the first 30 minutes, but Batshuayi’s double saw the hosts take control by the break.
“In the first half we did very well,” Benitez said. “We had chances, we were on top of them and were in control of them.
“In the second half they were much better because they were 2-0 up and we were more open.
“We tried to put them under pressure but there was a difference of quality in some situations.
“The first half showed we wanted to stay in the competition.”
Conte: Blues need at least three strikers
Conte says he needs at least three players to be able to play as a main striker while Chelsea are involved in three competitions.
Batshuayi has been tipped to leave on loan before Wednesday’s deadline but will not be allowed to go unless another striker is brought in.
Conte said. “When you have to play league, Champions League and FA Cup, if we have three strikers, I think that is the minimum.”
Musonda close to Celtic move
Chelsea are close to agreeing a deal with Celtic for Charly Musonda to join the Scottish champions on loan for 18 months.
It would see the 21-year-old Belgian spend the whole of next season at Parkhead as well as the rest of the current campaign.
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers, who was previously on the coaching staff at Chelsea, has attempted to sign Musonda before and now appears likely to snap him up.
Morata set to return to training
Alvaro Morata is close to a return after his back injury but Conte has hinted that the Spanish striker is unlikely to be back in time to play against Bournemouth on Wednesday.
“Morata is probably going to start training from Monday,” Conte said. “After a period of rest then he is going to start and for sure after an injury of this type he needs a bit of time to recover.”
Cahill discussed as Holloway chases signings
QPR have discussed whether to offer Tim Cahill a short-term deal.
Cahill, 38, has been offered the chance to return to Millwall, where he spent seven years and was a team-mate of R’s first-team coach Marc Bircham.
The Australian is a free agent, having left Melbourne City last month.
Rangers manager Ian Holloway is keen to add to his squad but financial restrictions mean the club’s options are limited.
And the QPR hierarchy will need to be persuaded that Cahill would be a worthwhile addition at this stage of his career.
Holloway plans ‘massive meeting’
Holloway says he will hold a “massive meeting” with his players on Monday in response to QPR’s defeat at Bristol City.
The Rangers boss described the 2-0 loss at Ashton Gate as “probably my most disappointing result ever” after his team were beaten despite their opponents playing most of the game with 10 men.
“We’ve got a massive meeting on Monday, because I’m not happy with that – not in a million years,” Holloway said.
“I’ve got some young players in and around my squad now. They’ve got to come to the fore and when I put them on they’ve got to show a little bit more than that.
“I’ve got to regalvanise us. We’ve got Barnsley next and that’s more important than anything.”
Vibe in talks over move to China
Brentford striker Lasse Vibe is discussing a move to Chinese side Yanbian FC.
Bees boss Dean Smith said: “Lasse Vibe is negotiating with another club. If Lasse goes it will because he agrees the deal and because the club agrees.”
Jokanovic expects Cairney return
Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic expects Tom Cairney to return to the squad against Nottingham Forest after the Whites captain missed the win at Barnsley.
The 27-year-old has been the subject of speculation about a move away from Craven Cottage and was left out of the starting line-up in each of the past three matches as he continues to recover from an ongoing knee problem.
There is interest from West Ham and West Bromwich Albion in Cairney, but Jokanovic expects him to stay.
Jokanovic said: “I spoke with him yesterday and he’s really unhappy with the situation with his knee. He wasn’t available to work with us yesterday, so I didn’t bring him here today.
“I had a plan to put him on the bench, but we expect he will be available for the next game.”