Chelsea hammered a limp Schalke side at the Veltins Arena to confirm their place in the last 16 as group winners. The Blues went ahead early on through John Terry, and Willian doubled the lead. Jan Kirchhoff put the ball in his own net late in the first half before Didier Drogba and Ramires added gloss to the win in the second period.
It’s fair to say that many didn’t expect such an easy game beforehand, with this being seen as a tough task for Jose Mourinho’s men. They came up against former manager Roberto Di Matteo, with these sides fighting it out for top spot in the group. Schalke trailed Chelsea by three points before the game, and a win here would have put the Germans top.
Mourinho named his strongest possible side, and any pre-game worries were extinguished when Terry put the visitors ahead after just two minutes. Cesc Fabregas once again set it up, with Terry rising to head in the Spaniard’s corner. Their lead was doubled just before the half hour mark, when a fantastic flowing move was finished off by Willian, who was in sterling form.
The game was put beyond doubt just before half time, when Kirchoff summed up his side’s night by heading in to his own goal. That goal pretty much confirmed the three points for Chelsea, putting them through to the next round and giving them an uncatchable lead at the top. That was also the end for Kirchoff, as he was hauled off at half time by Di Matteo.
The second half was less action packed early on, with Diego Costa coming off just after the hour mark with an apparent leg injury. Given how he’s played in recent weeks, and his injury record, that was the first real moment of concern for the away faithful, but Mourinho confirmed after the game that Costa will be fit for the trip to Sunderland at the weekend.
Luckily Costa’s replacement Didier Drogba isn’t such a bad player (!), and he added the fourth goal for the Blues. Willian teed up the Ivorian to tap in to an empty net, less than 10 minutes after he came off the bench. Ramires fared even better than that, scoring just moments after coming on. He made an instant impact, heading in from Drogba’s cross to make it 5-0.
It was a result deserving of Chelsea’s performance, they completely outclassed the German side. Many of Europe’s best would struggle to live with the Premier League leaders playing like this, and on this form they could go further than last year’s semi final exit. One thing that will help that is topping the group, theoretically giving them an easier tie in the next round. They’ll be glad to have secured that with a game to spare, so they can focus elsewhere during December.
LCN Man of the Match: Willian