Grimsby Town’s Carabao Cup run came to an end as they were outclassed by Chelsea despite a brave effort at a sold-out Stamford Bridge.
The Premier League side made a fast start to the game and were two goals up within seven minutes as Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi both scored.
But to the delight of their 5,000-strong travelling army of fans, the Mariners got themselves back into the contest when a superb strike by Matt Green made it 2-1.
Chelsea restored their two-goal lead before half-time though, as Pedro scored from the spot after Green had been penalised for a foul.
Defender Kurt Zouma scored a fourth for the hosts after the break and Reece James added a fifth, before Batshuayi’s second of the game put extra gloss on the scoreline.
And as the clock ticked down, the hosts were running riot as Callum Hudson-Odoi got in on the act to make it 7-1.
Harry Davis made his return from injury in one of four changes to the Town starting XI from the victory over Macclesfield at the weekend.
Mattie Pollock, Harry Clifton and Elliott Whitehouse were the others to come into the side, with the cup-tied Luke Waterfall, Ethan Robson, Jordan Cook and Ahkeem Rose making way.
James McKeown started in goal, with Elliott Hewitt, Pollock, Davis, Liam Gibson and Luke Hendrie forming the defence.
Clifton and Whitehouse joined Jake Hessenthaler in midfield, with James Hanson and Green forming the strike partnership.
Cook, Robson and Rose were all handed places on the bench, along with Sam Russell, Max Wright, Charles Vernam and Moses Ogbu.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard named a very strong line-up as he aimed to take the first step on the road to another final, with the club beaten by Manchester City in last season’s Wembley showpiece.
In a team full of internationals, the returning Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic, Pedro and Batshuayi were among the names to catch the eye on the teamsheet, with Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount among the stars kept in reserve on the substitutes’ bench.
And the home side took the lead from their first chance of the game, within four minutes of the kick-off. BARKLEY got the ball 25 yards out and beat Clifton before advancing into the penalty area and rifling a low shot past McKeown at his near post.
Things got worse for the Mariners three minutes later when Chelsea scored a second goal. A low cross from Reece James on the right fell for BATSHUAYI and he turned and found the net from 12 yards.
Barkley forced a save out of McKeown from a low shot as the hosts continued to put pressure on the Town goal, before a foul by Pollock on Batshuayi brought a free kick in a dangerous position on 16 minutes, which Marcos Alonso sent over the bar.
Grimsby’s first attack of note came a minute later and led to Hanson heading wide, before a moment of magic came in front of the travelling fans as their side got themselves back into the contest. A ball over the top fell perfectly for GREEN and he volleyed over home keeper Willy Caballero and into the net from 18 yards.
A Chelsea corner from the left was caught by McKeown, then another half-chance for the Mariners saw Hanson shoot wide of the near post.
Green was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Pulisic as the USA international looked to drive into the box from the right but the resulting free-kick led to Batshuayi heading wide.
A Town free kick came at the other end after a foul on Hanson on 34 minutes and it led to another on when Whitehouse was brought down on the right. Hessenthaler’s ball into the box was headed clear.
Hudson-Odoi broke into the Grimsby box on 39 minutes but Whitehouse was in the right place to block his shot.
Clifton cleared a low Alonso cross for a corner three minutes later and from it, the hosts have gifted a chance to restore their two-goal advantage when the referee spotted a foul by Green as the ball came across from the flag. He pointed to the penalty spot and PEDRO calmly rolled the ball past McKeown from 12 yards to make it 3-1.
Three additional minutes were played at the end of the first half and with no further chances, the score remained the same at the interval.
After a fast start from Chelsea, Town had grown into the game and to their credit, hauled themselves back into the contest at 2-1, although they faced a huge task once again after Pedro’s penalty.
No changes were made before the restart and a shot by Hudson-Odoi was blocked at the edge of the box four minutes in, before Batshuayi sent a low effort wide off the target soon afterwards.
Another Hudson-Odoi shot was blocked on 52 minutes for a corner and it eventually led to Alonso having a shot deflected for another one. This time, the delivery beat everybody and went out for a goal kick.
Chelsea were pushing for a fourth goal and it came on 55 minutes. A free kick was played right to Reece James and ZOUMA was first to his cross, beating Davis to the ball to prod home at the far post.
Wright replaced Clifton after the goal but the hosts kept attacking and Whitehouse managed to get in the way of a drive from Barkley on the edge of the box, before McKeown had to push a cross-shot by Hudson-Odoi clear.
Ogbu was sent on in place of Green on 63 minutes, then a double substitution by the hosts saw youngsters Ian Maatsen and Faustino Anjorin introduced in place of Alonso and Pedro.
Cook came on for Gibson in the final Town change with 20 minutes to go and Chelsea went close to adding a fifth goal soon afterwards when a quick counter-attack led to Pulisic shooting from inside the box, although the ball went wide of the far post.
McKeown made a brilliant block from Batshuayi on 77 minutes, although the offside flag had gone up in any case, before another great block, this time from Pollock, denied Pulisic.
Hudson-Odoi was then denied by McKeown as Town battled valiantly to keep the score at 4-1. But Chelsea were not to be denied a fifth goal and it came on 82 minutes, with JAMES curling a shot beyond the Mariners keeper and inside the far post.
Hudson-Odoi found himself one-on-one with McKeown soon afterwards but could not beat him, with Town’s number one diving to make the stop.
It was one-way traffic now though and a sixth home goal was not long in coming, as BATSHUAYI grabbed his second of the game with four minutes to go.
Town kept going and Hanson had a shooting chance from just outside the box but his effort was straight at Caballero.
And there was still time for another goal at the other end, as HUDSON-ODOI twisted and turned inside the box before finding a gap at the near post to fire past McKeown and make it 7-1.
Town were still pressing in a bid to give their fans something else to cheer and a late free-kick gave them an opportunity but when Hanson’s header went out for a goal kick, that proved to be the last action of the game.
The Mariners had been well beaten by a quality team but were still able to take the acclaim of their fans, who had stayed until the end to applaud their side’s efforts.
Attention now turns back to the league and the long trip to Exeter City on Saturday.
Chelsea: 13 Willy Caballero, 24 Reece James, 3 Marcos Alonso, 15 Kurt Zouma, 44 Marc Guehi, 8 Ross Barkley, 22 Christian Pulisic, 47 Billy Gilmour, 11 Pedro (C), 20 Callum Hudson-Odoi MF
23 Michy Batshuayi.
Subs: 31 Jamie Cumming, 63 Ian Maatsen, 29 Fikayo Tomori, 55 Faustino Anjorin, 5 Jorginho, 19 Mason Mount, 9 Tammy Abraham
Town: McKeown; Hewitt, Davis, Hendrie, Pollock, Gibson; Hessenthaler, Clifton, Whitehouse; Green, Hanson.
Subs: Russell, Cook, Robson, Wright, Vernam, Ogbu, Rose.