Aston Villa crashed out of the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of Chelsea on Wednesday night as Mauricio Pochettino's men ran out comfortable 3-1 victors in the fourth round replay at Villa Park. Unai Emery's side were awkward in possession and gifted the Blues far too much space in the middle and on the flanks, particularly in the first half. Conor Gallagher opened the scoring with a clinical finish early doors before Nicolas Jackson's header put the visitors in the driving seat. Enzo Fernandez then netted a beautiful 30-yard free-kick in the second half to put the game beyond doubt, with Moussa Diaby's stoppage-time goal merely a consolation. Chelsea's win books them a spot in the fifth round with a home tie against Leeds United.
The hosts actually edged it in the opening 10 minutes or so but it was Chelsea to open the scoring as Boubacar Kamara was dispossessed in midfield, giving the Blues the chance to progress up the left. Matty Cash was nowhere to be seen as Noni Madueke cut it back to Conor Gallagher to strike first time into the top left corner for an early lead. Douglas Luiz attempted a late challenge but his tackle was limp, giving Gallagher's shot an easy path through.
Villa reacted well to going a goal down and they very nearly equalised with two big chances. Leon Bailey first reacted quickest to a loose ball in the area after an Alex Moreno cross, but the Jamaican's effort was saved well by Dorde Petrovic. Ollie Watkins then fired powerfully on the half-volley around 30 seconds later to force the away goalkeeper into a tricky save.
Promising signs going forward were brutally outweighed by defensive incompetence, however, as Chelsea were given far too much space and time to double their lead in the 21st minute. An unmarked Nicolas Jackson got on the scoresheet with ease, heading in from a Malo Gusto cross to completely kill the already flattish atmosphere at Villa Park. Diego Carlos entirely misjudged the flight of the ball and paid for it as Jackson nodded beyond a helpless Emiliano Martinez.
Things turned from bad to worse for the Villans early in the second half as Fernandez scored a tremendous direct free-kick from about 30 yards. The £100 million midfielder won the foul himself as Youri Tielemans bundled him over in a central position but there was still plenty to do to beat Martinez from range. Fernandez's effort curled and dipped over the wall before finding the top left stanchion, sending the away support into raptures.
Villa perked up in the final 20 minutes or so as they zipped the ball around far better than earlier on in the game and there was one moment to celebrate. Diaby, who came off the bench with 20 minutes to go, struck off both posts to find the net – his first goal in 2024. It was too little too late, however, as Chelsea were already out of reach. It goes down as a disappointing night as Emery's men are left in just two competitions – the Premier League and the UEFA Europa Conference League. Here are our Villa player ratings.