The Blues, who led 2-1 from the first leg, started slowly but improved markedly after the break.
Olivier Giroud gave them the lead on the night by tapping home, before Ross Barkley floated in a free-kick moments after Rasmus Bengtsson was sent off.
Callum Hudson-Odoi scored a marvellous second-half goal as Chelsea cruised into the Europa League last 16 with a victory over Malmo at Stamford Bridge.
Hudson-Odoi, 18, then drove in from the right before firing in a late third. Whether this result will ease the pressure on Blues manager Maurizio Sarri remains to be seen.
Their next two matches – against Manchester City in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, and Tottenham in the Premier League next week – will be bigger tests.
Malmo error turning point for Blues
Given the quality of their performance, the scoreline perhaps flatters Chelsea; until the first goal it seemed their ‘Sarri-ball’ tactics – possession-based and methodical – would again be let down by a lack of end product.
Malmo had defended well. Their high line put the Blues defence and Mateo Kovacic – filling in for Jorginho in the deep playmaker position – under severe pressure early in the first half.
Sarri’s Blues then did what they have done so often this season – dominate possession – but visiting keeper Johan Dahlin did not have to extend himself before half-time.
But errors began to creep into Malmo’s performance after the break – and the first resulted in Chelsea’s opening goal. N’Golo Kante pounced on Lasse Nielsen’s loose header, drove towards the area and spread the ball wide to Willian. The Brazilian picked out Giroud in the six-yard area and he slotted home his sixth goal in Chelsea’s past five Europa League games.
The Blues doubled their lead seconds after Bengtsson was shown a second yellow for a foul on Emerson. Barkley, who also scored in the first leg, delivered a pinpoint finish which left Dahlin rooted to the spot.
The third came with six minutes remaining – Hudson-Odoi collecting an excellent crossfield pass from Willian, driving into the box and firing a low, angled shot beyond the Malmo keeper.
Did Hudson-Odoi do enough to start at Wembley?
With playmaker Eden Hazard on the bench, the responsibility for providing Chelsea’s spark fell to Hudson-Odoi.
This was his first start since the FA Cup fourth-round game against Nottingham Forest at the start of January, and his selection was greeted with one of the biggest cheers of the night.
The teenager did not disappoint the home support. During a turgid first half, he lifted the gloom when, tight on the touchline, he wriggled past four defenders.
His late goal was well-taken and deserved. Many Chelsea fans will be hoping the academy graduate has done enough to earn a place in Sunday’s team.
Sarri better than Guardiola? – the stats
- Chelsea have won each of their past seven Europa League home games, scoring at least three goals in six of those matches (20 in total – 2.86 per game on average).
- Swedish sides have won just once in their past eight European encounters away to English teams, drawing two and losing five.
- Sarri has won 28 of his opening 43 games in charge of Chelsea in all competitions (D6 L9), one more than Pep Guardiola managed in his first 43 matches with Manchester City (W27 D9 L7).
- Giroud is the first player to score in five consecutive Europa League appearances for an English club (six goals in total) since Romelu Lukaku for Everton in March 2015.
- Willian, who made his 200th start for Chelsea in all competitions, has registered three assists in his past four games – as many as he managed in his previous 25.
- Chelsea have scored three direct free-kicks in the Europa League this season – two more than any other side in the competition.
- Since the start of 2015-16, Chelsea have scored 20 direct free-kick goals in all competitions – six more than any other Premier League side in that time.
- Hudson-Odoi has been directly involved in six goals in his past six starts for Chelsea in all competitions (three goals, three assists).
Chelsea are at Wembley on Sunday for the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City (16:30 GMT).
Source: BBC News