WALSALL 1-4 CHELSEABrave Walsall bowed out of the Capital One Cup after losing 4-1 to holders Chelsea in front of over 10,500 at the Banks’s Stadium.
Ramires’ early header and Loic Remy’s emphatic finish put the Premier League champions in control.
James O’Connor gave the Saddlers hope on the stroke of half-time, but second-half strikes from Kenedy and Pedro sealed Chelsea’s passage into the last 16.
Walsall boss Dean Smith made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Peterborough.
Seven-goal top-scorer Tom Bradshaw missed out with a groin strain, while Reece Flanagan and Andy Taylor dropped to the bench. Taking their places were Milan Lalkovic, Jordan Cook and Kieron Morris.
Chelsea, meanwhile, named a strong team featuring the likes of John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Radamel Falcao.
And the illustrious visitors made a blistering start to the third round tie, creating two chances within the opening four minutes.
John Obi Mikel’s lofted pass over the Saddlers defence was controlled by Falcao on his chest, but Neil Etheridge rushed off his line to smother at the striker’s feet.
Shortly after, the pacey Kenedy made headway down the left and produced a low cross which was deflected into the path of Ramires.
The Brazilian shot first-time but Etheridge again came to the rescue, diving full length to save to his left.
On ten minutes, Chelsea scored the goal they had been threatening since the first whistle.
Etheridge’s stray pass to Paul Downing was picked off by Kenedy.
The dangerous youngster reached the byline and delivered a pinpoint cross to the far post which the unmarked Ramires nodded home with ease from close range.
Walsall, who knocked out Brighton and Nottingham Forest to reach this stage, were struggling to get a foothold in the game.
And after 19 minutes, it was almost 2-0.
Mikel's penetrative pass played in Falcao, who fired a low left-footed shot goalwards. The onrushing Etheridge saved with his leg, and as the ball spun towards the line, O’Connor scampered back to clear.
The Saddlers - in the League Cup third round for the first time in 13 years - fashioned their first real opening midway through the half.
Former Chelsea man Lalkovic skinned Ivanovic on the left, cut into the area but fired a low shot wide of the near post.
Romaine Sawyers then saw a right-footed drive fly off target after a slick counter attack.
The Blues should have doubled their lead on 36 minutes.
O'Connor cleared off the line from Falcao after the Colombian forward had rounded Etheridge, and the follow-up from Remy was somehow deflected over the bar.
But Chelsea weren’t to be denied four minutes before the break.
Ramires’ perfectly weighted pass found Remy who, from an acute angle, smashed a powerful first-time shot past Etheridge.
It was an emphatic finish.
But, in the first minute of added time, Walsall gave themselves a lifeline.
Asmir Begovic could only parry Lalkovic’s long-range free-kick and O’Connor reacted quickest to send a scuffed right-footed shot into the far corner.
HALF-TIME: WALSALL 1-2 CHELSEA
However, Chelsea restored their two-goal lead within seven minutes of the second period.
After good work from Mikel, Ruben Loftus-Cheek slipped in Kenedy, who drove the ball through Etheridge’s legs from eight yards.
Play was momentarily halted as a sprinkler went off by the corner flag.
Remy looked to add a fourth goal, and his second of the evening, when he jinked past two Walsall players before firing wide from just outside the box.
Smith made a double substitution in an attempt to inspire a Walsall comeback, with Anthony Forde and Flanagan replacing Lalkovic and Adam Chambers.
And the hosts enjoyed a good spell of pressure. Jason Demetriou’s speculative long-range strike sailed wide, Sawyers headed over from Forde’s corner, and Morris dragged an effort off target.
But the Blues made sure of the win in the second minute of added time, as substitute Pedro drilled a low right-footed drive past Etheridge from 22 yards.
FULL-TIME: WALSALL 1-4 CHELSEA
Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, O’Connor, Downing, Chambers © (Flanagan 72’), Mantom, Sawyers, Henry, Lalkovic (Forde 73’), Morris, Cook (Baxendale 86').
Subs not used: Taylor, MacGillivray, Preston, Kinsella.
Attendance: 10,525 (1,363 Chelsea supporters).