Assistant boss Gianfranco Zola hopes, like Chelsea fans, that Callum Hudson-Odoi’s goal against Sheffield Wednesday will not be his last for the club.
Hudson-Odoi scored on what could be his final Chelsea appearance and Willian netted twice as the FA Cup holders advanced with a 3-0 fourth-round win over the Championship Owls at Stamford Bridge.
Hudson-Odoi started despite submitting a transfer request ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline and the 18-year-old winger netted Chelsea’s second after 64 minutes.
The Chelsea fans immediately began to sing “we want you to stay”, and Zola smiled: “We want him to stay as well, we were singing too.
“He has a contract. We believe in what he can do for this team. I don’t think there are many 18-year-old players around Europe that are are playing as much as him in a big team.
“If you look at Juventus, all the big teams, they don’t have many 18-year-old players playing like we do. That shows that we believe in him, we think he can be an important player for us, so we will see what happens.
“We can do as much as we can do. From our point of view he has a lot of strong players next to him. But we still find the space for him to play.
“Did he look like he didn’t want to play? Yesterday in training he scored a fantastic goal.”
Until Hudson-Odoi scored, an official sitting 14 miles away in Stockley Park had been the most influential person on the contest, despite the fact Gonzalo Higuain was making his Chelsea debut.
When Joey Pelupessy surged through to try to meet Steven Fletcher’s pass, Ethan Ampadu slid in and won the ball before being kicked by the Wednesday midfielder. Referee Andre Marriner’s award of a penalty was swiftly overturned by VAR.
Play restarted with a dropped ball, as per the rules, which Wednesday did not contest. Soon they had conceded a spot-kick.
Blues academy graduate Sam Hutchinson trod on Cesar Azpilicueta. Marriner’s decision was reviewed, but there was no doubt.
Willian appeared to offer the spot-kick to Higuain, who declined, before the Brazilian sent goalkeeper Keiren Westwood the wrong way for his 50th Chelsea goal.
Owls caretaker boss Steve Agnew said: “With VAR, it was obviously the correct decision but I thought we should have had a corner as a result so that seemed a strange decision. But we’re all a bit wiser now.”