On a seismic day in the history of Chelsea Football Club it was perhaps fitting that Romelu Lukaku, their record signing, scored the winning goal in a 3-2 FA Cup fifth-round victory at second-tier Luton Town on Wednesday.
For most of a damp evening at Kenilworth Road it seemed the European and world champions were going to suffer a humiliating exit, hours after Russian businessman Roman Abramovich announced he was putting the club up for sale.
But Lukaku, the epitome of Chelsea’s spending power in the 19 years of Abramovich ownership, slid in to convert Timo Werner’s low cross in the 78th minute.
News of Abramovich’s decision, amid growing calls for him to be hit by sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, had the packed crowd abuzz before kickoff.
The Chelsea fans chanting his name were silenced after two minutes when Luton defender Reece Burke planted a textbook glancing header into the corner from a corner.
Saul Niguez levelled after 27 minutes but an intrepid Luton side restored their lead before halftime as Harry Cornick beat Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Luton looked capable of holding on for a giant-killing but Werner equalised in the 67th minute after being picked out by a lofted pass from Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Chelsea dominated the second half and Lukaku, out of favour of late despite his near 100 million-pound ($134 million) price tag, had the final say as the London side moved into the quarterfinals.