Tammy Abraham’s hat-trick helped Chelsea beat Luton Town 3-1 in the FA Cup fourth round to help ease the pressure on under-fire manager Frank Lampard.
Abraham had appeared to put the hosts in total control of the tie with two early goals, only for Jordan Clark’s strike on the half-hour mark, with the aid of another Kepa Arrizabalaga error, to give Luton hope of a shock at Stamford Bridge.
However, Abraham was on hand to ease any home nerves with a close-range finish 16 minutes from time and despite Timo Werner missing a late penalty, Chelsea still set up a fifth-round clash at Barnsley.
The home team headed into the tie in need of a morale-boosting display after losing 2-0 at Leicester in midweek, with Lampard fielding a strong-looking line-up against opponents from League Two.
And in snowy conditions in west London, Chelsea soon raced into a two-goal lead thanks to some opportunism from Abraham, albeit with controversy surrounding their 11th-minute opener as there were two balls on the pitch in the lead-up to the goal.
However, referee David Coote decided that had not affected Luton’s players as Hakim Ziyech’s quick throw appeared to catch the visitors napping, before Werner’s pull back from the right-hand byline was guided into the bottom corner of the net by Abraham.
The forward doubled his team’s lead six minutes later after some build-up play down the right involving the impressive Ziyech again and Reece James, whose cross caught Luton ‘keeper Simon Sluga hesitating, allowing Abraham to loop a header into the unguarded net.
But if Chelsea thought the job was done, they were mistaken as Luton hit back after their own eye-catching move as James Bree got free to the right-hand byline, before finding Clark in the box and his half-volley – their first shot on target in the game – somehow found its way past a fumbling Kepa at his near post.
After a lengthy half-time delay reportedly caused by a faulty bell in the visitors’ makeshift changing room located outside the stadium, the Premier League side stepped it up in the second half in search of the third goal to kill off the tie.
However, it was Luton who came closest to grabbing the next goal, only for Kepa to come to his team’s rescue this time with a vital block to keep out Chelsea fan Harry Cornick on the hour-mark.
And that was that as far as Luton were concerned, with Chelsea moving up a gear again after Callum Hudson-Odoi’s introduction, with the sub playing a key role in Abraham’s third, capping off a wonderful team move with his and his side’s decisive third goal.
It could have been even better for Lampard had his misfiring frontman Werner converted a penalty four minutes from the end, given after Clark had hauled down the German when through on goal, only for Sluga to guess right as Chelsea made it into round five for the 23rd time in the last 26 attempts.