Fernando Torres scored late in the second half to keep holders Chelsea in the FA Cup. The striker’s first goal since the 8-0 win over Aston Villa rescued a draw for Chelsea after an uncomfortable afternoon at Griffin Park.
Following their midweek elimination from the Capital One Cup by Swansea, a tie against local Brentford could have been the perfect way to get back into form and confidence, but in reality it was the League One side who were the better side for much of the game.
Following the recent stretch of poor weather in West London, the pitch at Griffin Park was full of muddy, treacherous areas, and for much of the first half the visitors seemed totally unable to cope with the conditions and an energetic, organised Brentford team.
The lack of comfort in the Chelsea ranks was exemplified by a mix up between the fit again John Terry and goalkeeper Ross Turnbull, which resulted in the keeper picking up a back pass in the area, though the resultant free kick was hit over the bar.
This was a sign of things to come however, and with the Chelsea defence looking uncertain and disorganised, Brentford were able to take the lead just before half time. Frank Lampard was caught in possession just outside his own area, and while Turnbull saved Harry Forrester’s initial shot, on loan forward Marcello Trotta put away the rebound.
Juan Mata was introduced for Marko Marin at half time, following another disappointing performance from the German, and the switch helped Chelsea to assert some semblance of control over the game.
It was a moment of individual skill from Oscar though that made the breakthrough. His close control under pressure on the edge of the area was exemplary, and there was nothing Simon Moore in the Brentford goal could do to keep out the Brazilian’s right-footed strike.
For a while it looked as though the holders would be able to up the tempo of the game and move away from their hosts, but Brentford had other ideas, and took the lead with a penalty with less than 20 minutes remaining. Clayton Donaldson played a through ball towards substitute Tom Adeyemi, who got behind the Chelsea centre backs and pushed the ball past the onrushing Turnbull before being felled by the keeper. Though Turnbull was only given a yellow card, there was nothing he could do to keep out Forrester’s penalty.
It took until the final 10 minutes for Rafa Benitez to call on Demba Ba from the substitute bench, having also brought on Cesar Azpilicueta for Branislav Ivanovic. The Senegalese was introduced at the expense of Ryan Bertrand, and it was his strength and work rate that presented Torres with his chance, holding off challengers before poking the ball to the Spaniard, who curled his shot past a helpless Moore.
Though Chelsea had appeals for a penalty turned down after Mata’s cross struck Harlee Dean on the arm, Brentford held on for a well deserved, and lucrative, replay at Stamford Bridge, which looks to be held the weekend of February 16/17, following Chelsea’s midweek trip to Prague in the Europa League.