MATCH REPORT: SWINDON TOWN 0 CHELSEA 2
Two strikes within eight first-half minutes did the damage against a Swindon side on a good run of form capable of playing tidy football but lacking a killer edge.
For much of the game the same could be said of Chelsea, with a number of chances passed up over the 90 minutes, but at the decisive moments, our class, and that of Torres in particular shone through, first when he poked home from close range after Juan Mata's shot had been saved, and then when he turned exquisitely to release substitute Ramires to chip home.
In the second half, Swindon had one effort ruled out for offside while Mark Schwarzer saved well on his Chelsea debut before Torres, Willian and Demba Ba all came close to adding to the winning margin. Next up is Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho made 10 changes from the side which beat Fulham on Saturday, with Gary Cahill the only survivor in the centre of defence. That meant a debut for Schwarzer, our oldest ever debutant at 40, and a first Chelsea appearance in over a year for captain Michael Essien, who was taking the armband for the first time.
There was bad news early on for the Blues, however, as Van Ginkel had to be replaced after just nine minutes following a painful looking fall in which he looked to have twisted his knee. Ramires was the replacement.
Soon afterwards came the game's first attempt at goal, David Luiz testing the reflexes of Swindon goalkeeper Wes Foderingham with a wicked, dipping free-kick that was beaten away into play. Fifteen minutes later Foderingham was called into action again, this time saving bravely from Torres who had been slipped through one-on-one by Mata.
Torres would soon make amends, putting the Blues in front with a simple tap-in after the home keeper had made an excellent stop to deny Mata after Ramires had squared for the playmaker.
Swindon were yet to threaten, with Chelsea efficiently winning back possession in our own half, and now, beginning to use it to effect more regularly.
The second goal was not long in coming, as this time Torres became the provider, turning his man and sliding a pass into the box for Ramires to reach before Foderingham and dink over the goalkeeper into the net.
Massimo Luongo brought a diving fingertip save from Schwarzer as the Robins sought a route back into the contest, and Cahill almost presented it when his loose touch looked to have freed Nile Ranger, but the defender recovered well to tackle before the former Newcastle striker could shoot. Alex Pritchard did test Schwarzer once more from distance before the break but it was easy pickings for the Chelsea man and we went in at the break looking well in control.
A second Chelsea change came at the break with Ramires brought off after his decisive cameo, and John Terry on in his place. David Luiz stepped up to midfield where he performed so impressively towards the end of last season.
From his more advanced position, albeit at a dead ball, David Luiz was able to demonstrate his passing ability when his early pass picked out De Bruyne in opposition territory, but the Belgian, clean in on goal, was unable to control.
Swindon thought they had pulled a goal back six minutes after the restart when Dany N'Guessan headed home Jay McEveley's inswinging free-kick, but an offside flag was able to spare Chelsea blushes and ensure the two-goal lead remained.
Essien was booked for a tug shortly afterwards, and from this set-piece Pritchard again worked Schwarzer, but again it was fairly straightforward for the Australian, who then saved from N'Guessan, the forward again offside however, at close range.
Back on the front foot, Chelsea almost killed the game off with just over 25 minutes remaining, when De Bruyne's powerful drive was spilled by Foderingham, but Torres could not muscle his way through a crowd of defenders to convert the rebound.
Torres then had a clearer chance after a well weighted pass from De Bruyne, but the shot was too straight at Foderingham's legs, and Willian skied the rebound when he should have scored.
With time ticking away, Swindon looked to be out of ideas. Mourinho gave De Bruyne, who had performed well, a rest, putting Demba Ba in for the final 15 minutes on the left flank. It was the other wide man, Willian though, who should have opened his account when he latched onto a Mata pass but slotted his finish the wrong side of the post, much to Torres's frustration with the striker waiting at the far post for a simple finish.
Four minutes from time Ba almost had his moment, linking brilliantly with Torres, cutting inside but shooting like Willian, just past the far post with the goalkeeper beaten.
There would be one final opportunity for a third, Torres racing through the home defence before attempting to round Foderingham, who held him up and saved well before Willian's effort was cleared off the line.
Tonight, it didn't matter and we progress to the last 16. On another day, those chances may need to be taken.
Swindon (4-5-1): Foderingham; N Thompson, Hall, Ward (c), McEveley; Ajose (El Gabas 73), Luongo, Kasim, Pritchard, N'Guessan; Ranger (L Thompson h/t).
Unused substitutes: Belford, Barthram, Wood, Branco, Storey.
Booked N Thompson 77
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Azpilicueta, Cahill, David Luiz, Bertrand; Essien (c), Van Ginkel (Ramires 9 (Terry h/t)); De Bruyne (Ba 77), Mata, Willian; Torres.
Unused substitutes: Blackman, Baker, Schurrle, Eto'o.
Goals Torres 28, Ramires 34
Booked Azpilicueta 43, Essien 53
Referee Michael Oliver
Crowd 14,924 (3,433 away)