Chelsea cruised into the Capital One Cup fourth round with a straightforward home win against Championship Wolves.
In a dazzling blitz of our opposition, goals from Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand and Juan Mata had put us three goals to the good inside 20 minutes, and with the game already well beyond the lacklustre visitors, an Oriol Romeu penalty and headers from Fernando Torres and Victor Moses put the gloss on a terrific night’s entertainment at Stamford Bridge.
Cahill had nodded us in front on three minutes before Bertrand smashed home from inside the box just moments later, Mata supplying a well-crafted third on 16 minutes.
Wolves only rarely threatened and it was no surprise when the goals continue to flow in the second half, first when Moses was brought down by the away goalkeeper, allowing Romeu to strike his first Chelsea goal and then when Torres headed home Mata’s corner before Moses took the chance to score his first in a Chelsea shirt too.
So it is on to the fourth round, the draw for which will be made on Wednesday night. Next for Chelsea is Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime.
Roberto Di Matteo handed debuts to summer signing Cesar Azpilicueta and youth graduate Lucas Piazon, while Moses started a Chelsea game for the first time.
Elsewhere there was a recall for John Terry despite his on-going FA hearing, with Ross Turnbull replacing Petr Cech in goal. Oriol Romeu also started for the first time this season, partnered with Ramires in deep midfield, while there was a place on the bench for Marko Marin, fit again after his hamstring problems hampered his start to life at Stamford Bridge.
Wolves were without Kevin Doyle in attack and made 10 changes from their win at Peterborough at the weekend, meaning a return for Stephen Hunt. Ex-Chelsea scholar Frank Nouble was on the bench.
It took only three minutes for the champions of Europe to seize control, with one of the new boys involved in the build-up.
Moses was fouled down the right, allowing Mata the dead-ball situation to cross to the far post, where Cahill climbed above Richard Stearman to head home. There was a hint of a push in the England international’s outmuscling of his marker, but referee Neil Swarbrick saw no wrong and the goal stood.
Barely any time had elapsed before Chelsea were celebrating a second goal, this time from the left boot of Bertrand, and once again youth was at the centre of the action.
Romeu’s long-range drive was only parried back into play by goalkeeper Dorus De Vries, allowing Piazon to collect and with time to pick a pass he found Bertrand who hammered into the top corner from 12 yards.
Piazon was inches from adding a third shortly afterwards when Azpilicueta’s cross flashed across the area in front of him, the Brazilian just unable to connect, but Di Matteo had every reason to be thrilled with his side’s start.
More was to come, and the crowd, chilled by the weather, would have been warmed by our third goal, a result of superb team play revolving around the excellent Mata.
The Spaniard exchanged passes in midfield with Ramires before dribbling on and repeating the same one-two with Torres before executing a tidy finish into the bottom corner past De Vries. It was a beautiful goal borne out of simplicity.
Turnbull’s first work of the evening came on 20 minutes when he tipped over a bending effort from David Davis, and five minutes later he was beaten by Slawomir Peszko, who capitalised on hesitant defending, rounded the goalkeeper and then promptly shot into the side netting.
It was a let-off that had Di Matteo off his seat urging concentration from his men, and they were soon back on song.
Just after the half-hour an inviting low cross from Ramires looked like it would be turned home by one of Moses, Bertrand and Torres, or even a Wolves defender, but somehow it stayed out and De Vries pounced on the loose ball.
Mata brushed the side-netting with a free-kick after Piazon had been felled on the edge of the box, and then Torres squared beyond the stretch of Piazon as the Blues threatened further damage.
Before the break Mata’s swirling cross was turned wide by Piazon, who had done all but score during his first 45 minutes of first-team football.
Seven second-half minutes had passed before Chelsea added to the lead, Romeu stroking home a well-struck penalty after Moses was adjudged to have been fouled by De Vries.
At the other end Peszko side-footed another golden opportunity wide after Razak Boukari had done well to get to the bye-line and pull back into the box, and the visitors’ miserable night was only set to continue.
Mata’s right-sided corner was met by Torres at the near post just before the hour mark, and the striker made no mistake, heading powerfully into the top corner with no marker in sight. It was his first goal since we beat Newcastle here exactly a month earlier.
Substitute Oscar, on for Ramires, and Mata almost one-twoed their way from a corner into the Wolves net before an offside flag prevented them, and that would be the Spaniard’s last contribution of the game, replaced by Marin with 20 minutes remaining.
The German was yet to make his Chelsea debut after a summer switch from Werder Bremen due to a hamstring injury, but he soon made up for lost time.
Cutting in from the left, he fed Oscar who crossed into the area for an incoming Moses to head home his first Chelsea goal and a sixth of the evening for the rampant home side.
Hazard replaced Torres in Di Matteo’s final change, ensuring there would be no let up for the tired and defeated Wolves defence.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry (c), Bertrand; Ramires (Oscar 59), Romeu; Moses, Mata (Marin 69), Piazon; Torres (Hazard 78).
Unused subs Hilario, Ferreira, David Luiz, Mikel.
Goals Cahill 3, Bertrand 6, Mata 16, Romeu (pen) 52, Torres 57, Moses 70
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-1-1): De Vries; Stearman, Batth, Magreitter, Zubar; Boukari (Nouble 63), Davis, Hunt (Forde h-t), Peszko (Ismail 83); Edwards; Sigurdarson.