Roy Keane heaped praise on Chelsea at both half-time and full-time after they beat Aston Villa 3-1.
The Blues and their boss Mauricio Pochettino came into the FA Cup fourth round replay at Villa Park under huge pressure following Sunday’s dire 4-2 defeat to Wolves.
However, against their in-form opponents – who beat Sheffield United 5-0 at the weekend – Chelsea started quickly, going 1-0 up after a superb finish from Conor Gallagher which capped a fine team move.
Nicolas Jackson made it 2-0, heading home after a delightful cross from Malo Gusto as the Chelsea supporters at Villa Park were sent into dreamland.
And Keane, speaking at half-time on ITV, lauded the first half performance by Pochettino’s side.
“It’s like the old Chelsea,’ he said. “Brilliant, strong, physical and sharp in possession. Good decision-making, two quality goals.
“They have been excellent. Hunting in packs, working in numbers, and they are playing like a team tonight.
“It was a nice bit of composure and a beautiful strike from Gallagher and they’ve been everything you want as a team. Simple but quality.
“The (second goal) is lovely, it’s great quality all round. We questioned Jackson’s finishing pre-game but again it’s a lovely goal.”
He continued: “We’ve questioned Chelsea, but now we question Villa and let’s see what they’ve got. We’re certainly not writing them off and that chance before half time is a warning.
“Villa need something, the Chelsea midfield have been outstanding but Villa need a spark.”
Following the first half display, Enzo Fernandez made it 3-0 early in the second half with a sublime free kick.
Moussa Diaby scored a late consolation, but the Blues ran out 3-1 winners and they will now host Leeds in the fifth round.
And, speaking at full-time, Keane reaffirmed his praise for a performance that Pochettino described as the best of his tenure.
He added: “A brilliant night for Chelsea. They were strong and aggressive, showed quality, and scored three great goals.
“It’s everything you want away from home. There are question marks over Villa and they never turned up tonight.
“Chelsea grew in confidence as the game went on and, it’s amazing this game… it drives you mad. We were praising Villa and saying it was crisis at Chelsea ahead of the game.
“Then they go and play like that. They have to kick on and take it in to the rest of season now.
“But what we saw tonight it was as if they were in Villa’s position chasing the top four.”