Benoit Badiashile scored the opening goal as he made his first appearance of the season in Chelsea’s 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over Blackburn at Stamford Bridge.
The France defender had not started a Blues match since he was injured in their draw with Nottingham Forest in May and got himself involved at both ends of the pitch in a game that also saw Reece James return to the starting XI.
Raheem Sterling fired home after the break, and while the visitors had defended well, they never looked close to coming back into the contest.
Chelsea have now reached their 24th quarter-final in 33 attempts, and are one step closer to lifting a first League Cup since 2015, when Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino was in charge of runners-up Tottenham.
Backburn had not played a League Cup contest at Stamford Bridge in 26 years and over 3,000 supporters made the trip, hoping to do one better than they did in 1997 when Rovers were knocked out after a penalty shootout.
There was little excitement inside the opening exchanges, which, save for two wasted corners for the hosts and Dilan Markanday’s left-footed effort running wide, was largely characterised by two sides simply trying find an early footing.
It took just over 15 minutes for Chelsea to finally test Leopold Wahlstedt through a drilled effort from James which the Swedish goalkeeper just managed to get enough of his body in the way to make the stop.
Badiashile did well to clear away a Blackburn chance before James tried again, this time with a low effort from distance before Enzo Fernandez forced Wahlstedt into a low save at the right post.
Blackburn continued to frustrate the Blues, winning back possession inside the penalty area, while Wahlstedt was able to palm away Conor Gallagher’s dangerous cross, but the rebound somehow sailed between a sea of bodies.
It eventually landed at the feet of the fortunate Badiashile, who dutifully finished to open the scoring after 30 minutes of a half that also saw penalty shouts from both sides brushed aside by referee Tim Robinson.
Harry Leonard fired inches wide of the right post to start off the second half, while Fernandez could only send his next effort straight into the arms of Wahlstedt, who would soon have no chance of stopping Chelsea’s second.
After some good work by Cole Palmer to win the ball deep inside Blackburn’s half, Sterling latched on to the ball at the edge of the area and powered a shot into the top right.
Both managers took the opportunity to make changes, and the visitors were prevented from conceding a quick third when Palmer’s effort took a dangerous deflection off James Hill and whizzed toward the goal before Blackburn were saved by the left post.
Chelsea pushed for a third with both Gallagher and Sterling sending efforts across the face of goal as the clock wound down on Blackburn’s cup campaign, though not before substitute Arnor Sigurdsson came close to firing in a stoppage-time consolation.