Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City - FA Cup 4th round
Oscar served up a stunning free-kick winner to underline just why Jose Mourinho is prepared to entrust Chelsea's future in the Brazilian rather than Juan Mata.
The man identified by the Blues' boss as the natural no10 for his side, curled a sumptuous ball over the defensive wall and past keeper Asmir Begovic in the 28 minute, and it was is if he had taken it upon himself to justify the boss' massive vote of confidence.
It turned out to be the only goal of a forgettable FA Cup tie, though it really should not have been. The Blues missed a hatful of chances and struck woodwork twice. But they are deservedly into the fifth round again after controlling the match.
Chelsea's playmaker was a class act and earned a warm ovation when he was subbed 10 minutes from the end.
He almost added a second towards the end of the first half with a rasping drive against a post, with the Stoke keeper beaten at his near post.
The Brazilain's inviting pass at the start of the second half also very nearly paved the pay for an Andre Schurrle goal – the German's strike smacking the woodwork.
Soon after, there was another clipped effort from Oscar that crept narrowly wide after some neat one-touch place inside the City box.
Undoubtedly the reminder of Oscar's brilliance was timely for Chelsea fans nursing some understandable hurt following the departure of Mata to Man United this week. The Spaniard's popularity and watchability was on a par with Gianfranco Zola's.
The Blues could have been on their way within two minutes when a typical darting run from Eden Hazard panicked a retreating Stoke defence and Samuel Eto'o's low left-footer on the turn brushed past Begovic's left hand post.
But while Chelsea's Cameroonian striker missed out then, he was the man earning the set piece on the edge of the Stoke area from which Oscar opened the scoring – having enticed a foul from Erik Pieters.
Further goals always looked likely. Hazard tricked his way past Pieters to the byline and a low centre only just eluded Frank Lampard. Then came Oscar's shot against a post.
In between, Stephen Ireland fired into the side-netting from Stoke's best chance of the half – Jonathan Walters having played his team-mate into the inside left channel.
But the visitors' threat was theoretical rather than real - a high ball or two to Peter Crouch hinting at a way back rather than providing one.
For their part, Chelsea were happy to throttle back. If a second goal did not materialise, so be it, seemed to be the thinking.
As it was, more Hazard trickery fashioned an opening, but Eto'o, under pressure inside the six-yard box, could only stab wide, while David Luiz went even closer with a pile-driver free-kick that Begovic did well to tip away.
Mourinho, who fielded a strong side, will be pleased there is not replay to clog the fixtures and can now prepare for a Monday night game at Man City instead of Saturday.
Line-up: Schwarzer; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Lampard, Matic; Schurrle (Ramires 70), Oscar (Willian 81), Hazard; Eto'o (Ba 85). Subs not used: Cech, Mikel, Terry, Azpilicueta.