Match ends, Chelsea 2, Scunthorpe United 0.
Chelsea moved into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a professional victory over League One side Scunthorpe United.
The hosts took an early lead when Branislav Ivanovic's right-wing cross was diverted in by Diego Costa, under pressure from two Scunthorpe defenders.
Excellent goalkeeping from Scunthorpe's Luke Daniels saw him tip over powerful efforts from Cesc Fabregas and Pedro.
But Chelsea ended the Iron's resistance when Ruben Loftus-Cheek steered in Cesar Azpilicueta's low cross for 2-0.
FA Cup the priority?
With Chelsea 14th in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Arsenal, and facing a tricky tie against Paris St-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League, the FA Cup could represent the Blues' best chance of winning a trophy this season.
Interim boss Guus Hiddink, who lifted the FA Cup in 2009 in his last spell at the club, showed how seriously he was taking the competition with a near full-strength team against a side 45 places lower in English football's pyramid.
Chelsea lost to League One Bradford 4-2 in the fourth round of last year's competition, and, despite moving ahead on 13 minutes, had to work hard to get past a well-organised, hard-working Scunthorpe side.
Scunthorpe battle hard
The 2014-15 Premier League champions threatened to overrun their opponents as Fabregas and Pedro were denied by Daniels, with Oscar firing another chance just wide.
But Hiddink's side men did not have it all their own way as Scunthorpe ended the first half strongly, with the dangerous Luke Williams only denied by a last-ditch covering challenge from Kurt Zouma after an error from fellow centre-half Gary Cahill.
The visitors thought they had won a penalty when Kevin van Veen was clipped by Ramires but referee Craig Pawson dismissed their appeals.
However, the home side's superior quality showed as Azpilicueta got to the byeline to pull the ball back for 19-year-old midfielder Loftus-Cheek to score his first Chelsea goal and end the match as a contest.
But there was still time for Jordan Clarke to hit a 25-yard effort that was pushed on to the post by Blues goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Man of the match - Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
What they said
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, who says Costa is "doubtful" for the Blues' Premier League game against West Brom on Wednesday, says: "I was happy with the result. The Premier League is difficult to get the fourth place, but the other projects are the FA Cup and the Champions League
"It is a decent result against a very strong opponent, especially in their set-pieces. We started well, but we forgot to kill it off.
"We had high pressing, but we were a little bit arrogant in our finishing."
Asked if he was tempted to make more changes to his starting line-up, he replied: "The temptation was there, but the will was to not have the same experience as last year when they were kicked out in the early stages."
Scunthorpe United boss Mark Robins was frustrated by the decision to not give his side a penalty when Van Veen was fouled by Ramires.
He said: "Chelsea made it very difficult for us and early on we gave the ball away too much but after that I thought we were good.
"It is a nailed-on penalty and you come to places like this and you want to get the decisions, but sometimes you don't
"We had opportunities to score but unfortunately Loftus-Cheek managed to get into the penalty area and made a decent contact on it for 2-0."
The stats you need to know
- Loftus-Cheek scored with his first shot on target for Chelsea, in what was his 11th appearance for the Blues.
- Scunthorpe have not beaten a top-flight side in the FA Cup since beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in the fourth round in 1970 (drew two, lost 13 since).
- The Blues have progressed from the third round in each of the past 18 seasons. The last time they failed to reach the fourth round was in 1998 when they lost 5-3 to Manchester United.
- Chelsea had 70% possession, but only had four shots on target.
- Diego Costa has scored four goals in his last three games for Chelsea, the same amount he had scored in his previous 21.
Chelsea are back in action on Wednesday as West Brom visit Stamford Bridge in a Premier League game, but Scunthorpe get some time to rest as they next play on Saturday - a League One match at Blackpool.
- 2IvanovicBooked at 66mins
- 7Santos do Nascimento
- 8OscarSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 45'minutes
- 17PedroSubstituted forKenedyat 72'minutes
- 19Diego CostaSubstituted forTraoreat 86'minutes
- 23M Wallace
- 15DawsonBooked at 63minsSubstituted forKingat 79'minutes
- 10van VeenSubstituted forWoottonat 81'minutes
- 7WilliamsSubstituted forAdelakunat 79'minutes
- Craig Pawson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Chelsea 2, Scunthorpe United 0.
Attempt missed. Neal Bishop (Scunthorpe United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left following a corner.
Corner, Scunthorpe United. Conceded by Bertrand Traore.
Corner, Scunthorpe United. Conceded by Kurt Zouma.
Hand ball by Scott Laird (Scunthorpe United).
Foul by Bertrand Traore (Chelsea).
Murray Wallace (Scunthorpe United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Scunthorpe United. Conceded by Asmir Begovic.
Attempt saved. Jordan Clarke (Scunthorpe United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Paddy Madden.
Attempt blocked. Neal Bishop (Scunthorpe United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Chelsea. Bertrand Traore replaces Diego Costa.
Ramires (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Scott Laird (Scunthorpe United).
Kenedy (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jamie Ness (Scunthorpe United).
Substitution, Scunthorpe United. Kyle Wootton replaces Kevin van Veen.
Substitution, Scunthorpe United. Jack King replaces Stephen Dawson.
Substitution, Scunthorpe United. Hakeeb Adelakun replaces Luke Williams.
Attempt missed. Paddy Madden (Scunthorpe United) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Scott Laird.