By Peter Shuttleworth
BBC Sport at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea players congratulate Drogba after his goal
Didier Drogba inspired FA Cup holders Chelsea to a comfortable win over 2008 finalists Cardiff City.
The Ivory Coast striker opened the scoring inside two minutes before setting up two more as favourites Chelsea cruised into the quarter-finals.
Michael Chopra gave Cardiff brief hope with a first-half leveller before Michael Ballack restored Chelsea's lead.
Daniel Strurridge and Salomon Kalou sealed Championship Cardiff's fate.
Chelsea remain the team to beat in this competition with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool already eliminated.
And few would bet against Carlo Ancelotti 's European and domestic title challengers completing a treble this season as Chelsea bid to become only the fifth post-war team to successfully defend the FA Cup.
Chelsea's line-up may have been minus high-profile absentees John Terry, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien - for differing reasons - but Ancelotti was still able to name £105m of talent in a star-studded team.
Cardiff's injury crisis was eased slightly as Dave Jones risked striker Jay Bothroyd and holding midfielder Gavin Rae, who had been suffering ankle and hamstring injuries respectively, but Stephen McPhail, Joe Ledley and skipper Mark Hudson missed out.
Chelsea were already British football's top scorers at home before this rout while Cardiff are the most clinical on the road - and within two minutes the holders were in front in the easiest possible fashion.
Cardiff's defence was caught standing by a straight-forward John Obi Mikel long ball and Drogba left Gabor Gyepes standing to fire home his 23rd goal of the season.
It was the worst possible start for Cardiff and the inquest into the defensive debacle raged until Gyepes himself almost made amends at the other end within minutes.
Anthony Gerrard, Cardiff's other centre-back, was not immune from blame in Drogba's stroll to goal and he almost headed Cardiff level in the 10th minute from Peter Whittingham's left-wing cross.
The unmarked defender, younger cousin of England star Steven, thought he had scored until Chelsea's keeper Hilario tipped the ball around his right-hand-post.
Within a minute, Gerrard had wriggled free in the box again to head another Whittingham corner goalwards but Chopra, five yards from goal, could not divert the ball in.
Drogba tested David Marshall with an elaborate overhead kick before more nerve-jangling moments in the visiting box when a lack of communication between the Cardiff keeper and Gyepes resulted in a mid-air collision and the ball spilling free before Gerrard cleared the danger.
Chelsea, too, were looking susceptible to crosses and indeed that proved to be the hosts' undoing in the 33rd minute.
Influential targetman Borthroyd linked up with Chris Burke and Chopra headed in the Scottish winger's cross to shock the Premier League leaders.
Chelsea defender Alex stood and watched his man stoop to convert his 17th goal of the season and give Jones' Championship side hope.
Michael Ballack, a colossus alongside Frank Lampard in Chelsea's midfield, extinguished any glimpses of an upset within six minutes of the restart as the German midfielder capitalised on yet more lacklustre Cardiff defending.
Drogba dropped deep and chipped the ball over the Bluebirds backline as Ballack flicked the ball over Marshall for his fifth of the season.
And if it wasn't for Mark Kennedy's last-ditch block, Alex would have extended Chelsea's lead just after the hour but the Irishman made a timely clearance.
But Drogba was in sizzling form and the Ivorian played a key role Chelsea's crucial third with 20 minutes remaining.
Daniel Sturridge's give-and-go sucked in three Cardiff defenders which allowed the England under-21 star to slide the ball through the legs of the helpless Marshall for his fourth goal in three Cup games this season.
Chelsea's seven-year unbeaten FA Cup run at Stamford Bridge never looked in danger.
And their vice-like grip on this tie was complete when Salomon Kalou found yet more space in the Cardiff box to head Paulo Ferreira's inviting cross past Marshall with four minutes remaining as the Blues strengthen their push for a third FA Cup triumph in four years.
Cardiff's FA Cup adventure has ended in London by a Premier League team for the fifth successive season, but for a club with financial difficulties, the £1m injection from their run is a welcome boost.
Chelsea assistant boss Ray Wilkins: "It was tougher than we thought. We anticipated having a hard game. Cardiff played exceptionally well and gave us a lot of problems in the first half.
"But thankfully we managed to up the tempo in the second half and it became a tad easier for us. But we have got to give Cardiff credit as well. For an hour they gave us a tough old game.
"Our team was changed but we took quality out and quality came back in. It is the professionalism of our players that shines through.
"Some people might have thought this was going to be a bit of an easy game for us but those guys took it by the throat and pulled us through when we were not playing particularly well."
Cardiff boss David Jones:
"I cannot fault my players in anything they have done, they were magnificent. It looks like a drubbing but it was far from that.
"For over an hour we gave a good account of ourselves and showed great character after going a goal down after a couple of minutes.
"I decided to come here and have a go. Every player today deserved a lot of plaudits because they worked their socks off.
"We regrouped after conceding an early goal and stuck to our game plan when they were in possession.
"We grew in confidence and their keeper pulled off some fantastic saves. But as the game went on they imposed their quality.
"It gives us some credit that Ancelotti brought on his big guns."
90:00+3:03 The referee blows for the end of the match.
90:00+2:17 Effort from just outside the area by Michael Ballack goes over the bar.
89:19 Substitution Aaron Wildig goes off and Solomon Taiwo comes on.
89:07 Shot from just outside the area by Florent Malouda misses to the left of the target.
87:41 Substitution Fabio Borini is brought on as a substitute for Didier Drogba.
85:31 The assist for the goal came from Paulo Ferreira.
85:31 GOAL - Salomon Kalou:Chelsea 4 - 1 Cardiff Salomon Kalou finds the net with a headed goal from inside the penalty box. Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff.
84:01 Peter Whittingham takes a shot. Save made by Henrique Hilario.
83:13 Alex gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Anthony Gerrard. David Marshall takes the direct free kick.
83:01 Didier Drogba takes a shot. Gabor Gyepes gets a block in.
82:11 Frank Lampard produces a drilled right-footed shot from 25 yards. Blocked by Darcy Blake.
80:58 Ross McCormack has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
80:10 Kevin McNaughton has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.
78:47 Florent Malouda produces a drilled left-footed shot from 30 yards. Save made by David Marshall.
77:19 Substitution Daniel Sturridge goes off and Florent Malouda comes on.
77:19 Substitution Ross McCormack joins the action as a substitute, replacing Chris Burke.
75:36 Foul by Ricardo Carvalho on Kevin McNaughton, free kick awarded. Peter Whittingham delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed
from right channel, Didier Drogba makes a clearance.
73:50 Substitution Darcy Blake joins the action as a substitute, replacing Gavin Rae.
68:41 GOAL - Daniel Sturridge:Chelsea 3 - 1 Cardiff Daniel Sturridge finds the net with a goal from inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. Chelsea 3-1 Cardiff.
67:02 Shot from just outside the penalty box by Daniel Sturridge misses to the left of the target.
66:05 Yuri Zhirkov delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, clearance by Kevin McNaughton.
66:05 Booking Anthony Gerrard is given a yellow card.
65:57 Anthony Gerrard gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Salomon Kalou.
64:51 Foul by Salomon Kalou on Aaron Wildig, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by David Marshall.
64:41 Outswinging corner taken by Frank Lampard from the right by-line.
64:22 Corner from the right by-line taken by Michael Ballack, clearance by Jay Bothroyd.
63:40 Corner taken right-footed by Frank Lampard from the right by-line, Shot from 12 yards by Didier Drogba. Aaron Wildig gets
a block in.
62:59 Kevin McNaughton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Yuri Zhirkov. Frank Lampard delivers the ball from the
free kick right-footed from left wing, Mark Kennedy manages to make a clearance.
61:36 Corner taken by Frank Lampard, Alex takes a shot. Blocked by Gabor Gyepes.
60:34 Booking Ricardo Carvalho goes into the referee's book.
60:27 Ricardo Carvalho gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jay Bothroyd. Free kick taken by Anthony Gerrard.
59:31 The offside flag is raised against Salomon Kalou. David Marshall takes the indirect free kick.
55:08 Shot from just outside the box by Frank Lampard misses to the right of the goal.
54:07 Free kick awarded for a foul by Paulo Ferreira on Jay Bothroyd. Mark Kennedy takes the free kick.
50:33 Assist on the goal came from Didier Drogba.
50:33 GOAL - Michael Ballack:Chelsea 2 - 1 Cardiff A goal is scored by Michael Ballack from deep inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. Chelsea 2-1 Cardiff.
48:56 Didier Drogba gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Anthony Gerrard. David Marshall takes the free kick.
45:53 Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Chopra on Frank Lampard. Shot comes in from Didier Drogba from the free kick, save
made by David Marshall.
45:01 The second half has started.
45:01 Substitution Salomon Kalou joins the action as a substitute, replacing Joe Cole.
45:00+3:02 The half-time whistle blows.
45:00+2:57 Didier Drogba produces a cross.
43:14 Daniel Sturridge produces a left-footed shot from long range which goes wide right of the target.
42:50 Daniel Sturridge fouled by Kevin McNaughton, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Frank Lampard.
41:25 Frank Lampard takes a inswinging corner.
40:16 Corner taken left-footed by Yuri Zhirkov from the right by-line to the near post, Mark Kennedy makes a clearance.
40:02 Paulo Ferreira crosses the ball, Gabor Gyepes gets a block in.
38:11 Effort on goal by Frank Lampard from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
38:06 The ball is delivered by Paulo Ferreira.
37:25 Jay Bothroyd takes a shot. Henrique Hilario makes a save.
36:27 Jay Bothroyd fouled by Mikel, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Aaron Wildig.
33:46 The assist for the goal came from Chris Burke.
33:46 GOAL - Michael Chopra:Chelsea 1 - 1 Cardiff Michael Chopra finds the net with a headed goal from close in. Chelsea 1-1 Cardiff.
33:43 Chris Burke crosses the ball,
32:33 Yuri Zhirkov concedes a free kick for a foul on Jay Bothroyd. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Peter Whittingham
from right wing, clearance made by Didier Drogba.
31:52 Free kick awarded for a foul by Daniel Sturridge on Kevin McNaughton. Free kick taken by David Marshall.
31:41 The ball is delivered by Joe Cole, clearance by Kevin McNaughton.
31:38 The ball is sent over by Paulo Ferreira.
30:42 Joe Cole produces a cross.
29:04 Yuri Zhirkov takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Anthony Gerrard.
28:52 Didier Drogba produces a cross, Gabor Gyepes makes a clearance.
26:23 Michael Ballack produces a right-footed shot from long range which goes wide right of the target.
25:35 Shot by Didier Drogba. Save by David Marshall.
23:00 Joe Cole takes a shot. Blocked by Anthony Gerrard.
22:11 The assistant referee flags for offside against Peter Whittingham. Alex takes the direct free kick.
21:20 Handball decision goes against Joe Cole. David Marshall takes the free kick.
20:00 Booking Michael Chopra is cautioned.
19:53 Unfair challenge on Ricardo Carvalho by Michael Chopra results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Mikel.
17:20 Shot by Peter Whittingham from 20 yards. Blocked by Ricardo Carvalho.
14:59 The ball is swung over by Didier Drogba.
14:53 The ball is sent over by Joe Cole.
14:13 Paulo Ferreira delivers the ball, save by David Marshall.
13:26 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Daniel Sturridge by Mark Kennedy. Direct free kick taken by Alex.
12:05 Chris Burke produces a cross, Henrique Hilario makes a save.
10:37 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Peter Whittingham, Michael Chopra produces a header from inside the six-yard box that
clears the bar.
9:36 The ball is crossed by Peter Whittingham, Anthony Gerrard takes a shot. Save by Henrique Hilario.
9:36 Booking Booking for Alex for unsporting behaviour.
9:28 Alex challenges Jay Bothroyd unfairly and gives away a free kick.
7:52 Didier Drogba takes a shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.
7:37 Peter Whittingham produces a cross, Yuri Zhirkov manages to make a clearance.
7:04 The referee blows for offside. Anthony Gerrard restarts play with the free kick.
6:26 Joe Cole produces a cross.
4:40 Peter Whittingham takes the outswinging corner, Gabor Gyepes takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Alex gets a block
3:27 The ball is delivered by Peter Whittingham.
1:53 Assist by Mikel.
1:53 GOAL - Didier Drogba:Chelsea 1 - 0 Cardiff Didier Drogba finds the net with a goal from inside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Chelsea 1-0 Cardiff.
0:14 Foul by Jay Bothroyd on Mikel, free kick awarded. Mikel takes the direct free kick.
0:00 The game kicks-off.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.