WATFORD - Nicolas Anelka rescued Chelsea's FA Cup hopes on Saturday, scoring a hat trick in a 3-1 victory at Watford to avoid a shock fifth-round exit.
In their first game since Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked and with replacement manager Guus Hiddink watching in the stands, Chelsea fell behind to the Championship (second division) strugglers when Tamas Priskin netted with 21 minutes remaining.
Priskin's goal came completely against the run of play but Anelka equalised six minutes later from close range and before Watford could regroup he headed in a cross two minutes later.
The France striker completed his treble in stoppage time to make Chelsea the first side through to the quarterfinals.
The day's other ties ended all square with Premier League Blackburn Rovers and Fulham relieved to still be in the competition. Blackburn were indebted to a last-gasp equaliser from Christopher Samba as they drew 2-2 at home to Championship side Coventry City.
Fulham survived a severe test against another team from the second tier, hanging on for a 1-1 draw at Swansea City.
In the only all-Premier League clash West Ham United drew 1-1 at home to Middlesbrough while Yorkshire rivals Hull City and Sheffield United also ended 1-1.
Arsenal are at home to Cardiff City in a fourth-round replay today. - Reuters