Three things we learned from Barnsley – Chelsea

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Barnsley – Chelsea: Tammy Abraham’s second-half goal was the lone goal of a very difficult 1-0 win for Chelsea over second-tier Barnsley in FA Cup action at Oakwell Ground on Thursday.

The Blues move on to host Sheffield United in the quarterfinals.

Chelsea’s 64th-minute goal came on its first shot on target in a match that was anything but straight-forward for the highly-favored Blues.

[ MORE: FA Cup quarterfinal draw ]

Reece James zipped down the right side to set up the goal, sliding the ball across for Abraham to tap home. Abraham then cleared a would-be Barnsley equalizer over his goal when Kepa Arrizabalaga adventure in the 78th minute.

USMNT forward Daryl Dike made his Barnsley debut off the bench and fellow American national team talent Pulisic went 80 minutes in his return to the Chelsea starting lineup.


Three things we learned from Barnsley – Chelsea

1. The slowest of starts: Chelsea’s first half saw the Blues hold 72 percent of the ball but manage only two of the game’s seven shots, failing to put any on target while the Championship’s Tykes could’ve scored twice against their Premier League visitors. This looked a lot more like Frank Lampard’s confused Blues in the final third. Maybe Chelsea’s players just need ideas. Chelsea had 85 percent of the ball in the first quarter-hour of the second half, but Barnsley again had the other attempt.

2. Tuchel the Tinkerman: Holy Ranieri (Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic). Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel took advantage of the extra subs provided in the FA Cup, making two changes at halftime in moving to a back four after 45 rough minutes of a 3-4-3. Antonio Rudiger and Reece James came in for Andreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso, and Christian Pulisic moved from the left to the right.

3. Americans Abroad: American star Christian Pulisic made his first Chelsea start for Thomas Tuchel after the manager used him as an “unfair” sub due to familiarity and then had to rest the USMNT winger due to personal reasons. A late-arriving Pulisic came close to scoring in the 41st minute with a sliding effort at Callum Hudson-Odoi’s nice cross to the back post. Pulisic helped James run by stealing a back’s attention prior to the pass that became Abraham’s 64th-minute goal but was mostly pedestrian like most of his teammates.

Daryl Dike entered the game with a little over a half-hour to play, the 20-year-old Orlando City loanee making his English debut. He had one touch, an incomplete first-time pass, in his first 11 minutes as the Blues kept the ball. Dike finished with two shots — one blocked, one off-target — in 35 minutes.

Barnsley – Chelsea Man of the Match: Tammy Abraham

Scored and converted three-of-five dribbles, but got stuck into 24 duels, drew three fouls, and made two impressive defensive plays in the box to defend the lead his goal produced at Oakwell.