LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Michy Batshuayi took advantage of a rare start to score twice as Chelsea eased past Newcastle United 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Belgian’s goals could not have been better timed with reports suggesting that Chelsea are close to signing a striker ahead of Wednesday’s transfer deadline.
Batshuayi was one of four changes from the team knocked out of the League Cup in midweek and Antonio Conte’s show of faith in his reserve striker was quickly rewarded when he got on the end of a slick move started by Pedro’s probing pass to put Chelsea ahead on 31 minutes.
Although Batshuayi seldom gets game-time in the Premier League, he remains the Italian’s go-to man in the FA Cup, with no Chelsea player having scored more in the competition under Conte.
Another strike quickly followed although this time Batshuayi needed a huge slice of luck when, set free by Eden Hazard, his shot was deflected over the keeper by the diving Jamaal Lascelles just before the break.
The goal was Batshuayi’s 10th of the season.
Marcus Alonso added Chelsea’s third just after the interval with a superb 72nd-minute freekick over the wall.
Defeat continued Newcastle’s dismal record in the competition. The club last reached the fifth round in 2006.
Cardiff City host Manchester City in the day’s other game later on Sunday. (Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Pritha Sarkar)