FA Cup - Chelsea ease past QPR
Chelsea defeated Queens Park Rangers 1-0 in the FA Cup fourth round at Loftus Road courtesy of Juan Mata's controversial second-half penalty.
The Spaniard stroked home his spot-kick on 62 minutes after Mike Dean deemed Clint Hill to have pushed Daniel Sturridge in the area.
With the build-up to the game dominated by the race row involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand following October's league clash, the Football Association released a statement a few minutes before kick-off announcing that there would be no pre-match handshake between the two sets of players on request of both clubs 'in an attempt to further diffuse tensions'.
The move ended the debate about whether Ferdinand would shake Terry's hand.
The two defenders both started the match for their respective sides. Akos Buzsaky was in the QPR team after his impressive showing against Wigan a week earlier, and new signing Nedum Onuoha started on the bench. Fernando Torres was in the Blues starting line-up, flanked by Mata and Sturridge. Gary Cahill, who joined the club from Bolton earlier this month, was on the bench.
The predicted on-pitch animosity after allegations of a racial slur by Terry against Ferdinand never really materialised and instead the crowd at Loftus Road were subjected to a sterile Cup tie.
Mata was an intermittent threat for the Blues and his low shot after a slip from Luke Young forced Paddy Kenny into a diving save early on.
That was as close as either team came in the first half. QPR were happy to contain, with Chelsea unable to find that injection of pace that their attacking play has often lacked this season.
A brilliant back-heel from Mata found Ramires in the area before half-time but the Brazilian put far too much pace on his cross. It was an exceptional piece of skill from the Spaniard and a rare highlight in a turgid first-half.
Torres produced a hard-working display. The Spaniard found Sturridge on the edge of the area, but the former Manchester City youngster ballooned over the bar.
Ramires then broke quickly for Chelsea and Mata's cross into the box for Sturridge was over-hit - but referee Dean blew for a push on the striker by Hill. Contact was minimal, and Mark Hughes voiced his disapproval at the penalty award.
Mata's spot-kick was struck confidently into the bottom right-hand corner to give Chelsea the lead.
QPR could not get any service to their front players and struggled to find a rhythm as the Blues remained in control.
However, with Chelsea playing out time Young came close to equalising seconds from the end when his well-struck effort was pushed away by Cech.
This was a dour encounter and the result may have come at a cost for Chelsea as the impressive Ramires was stretchered off with a knee injury in the 77th minute.