Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored his first ever senior hat trick as Chelsea strolled past BATE Borisov to secure a 3-1 Europa League victory on Thursday
The Blues took little time to storm into an early lead as the vibrant Loftus-Cheek arrived to stroke the ball home after just two minutes following some strong work on the flank from right back Davide Zappacosta.
The England international, drafted into a ?Chelsea side which featured eight changes from the team which drew 2-2 with Manchester United on Saturday, doubled his tally and his side’s lead with a deft flick from a corner on the eighth minute.
As the likes of Olivier Giroud, Willian and Emerson Palmieri produced some good attacking work for the remainder of the first half, the score remained at 2-0 until ?Loftus-Cheek produced another moment of brilliance, sending a curling ball from distance into the bottom corner to complete his hat trick early in the second half.
GOAL! Chelsea 2-0 BATE Borisov
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has scored as many goals for Chelsea in six-minutes as his first 35 appearances for the club combined (2)
Follow the action live — https://t.co/r6tuabfvoa
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 25, 2018
The attacking midfielder epitomised Chelsea’s offensive quality and the ease with which Sarri’s much changed side went about their business in banishing a poor BATE Borisov side from Stamford Bridge, with a level of comfort which at times echoed that of a training session.
A late consolation strike from BATE came much to the annoyance of Sarri on the 79th minute, as Aleksey Rios turned in a free kick from close range.
In truth, however, the match was far from a contest for Chelsea, but it was a fine platform for their squad players and those who feature less regularly in Sarri’s starting XI to remind the Italian coach of their qualities.
Key Talking Point
In a game in which Chelsea rested numerous star names and were forced to do without the injured ?Eden Hazard, Loftus-Cheek rose to the fore and stepped up with a performance which may force the midfielder into greater future contention for a bigger role in the side.
There is a sense that Loftus-Cheek may struggle to unlock his vast potential at Stamford Bridge with manager Maurizio Sarri seemingly unwilling to give the England international a prominent role in his plans. However, the midfielder’s performance on Thursday may spark a resurgence.
The likes of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, ?Mateo Kovacic and ?Ross Barkley are all currently ahead of the 22-year-old in the midfield ranks under Sarri, but Loftus-Cheek stepped up from the outset against BATE Borisov to give his side the attacking spark in Hazard’s absence.
The former Crystal Palace loanee fired the home side ahead after just two minutes with a confidently taken strike before producing an opportunistic flick in the penalty area to turn home a Chelsea corner just six minutes later.
A sublime curling effort from outside the box to the far bottom corner on the 53rd minute sealed Loftus-Cheek’s hat trick and an all round attacking midfield masterclass from the bright Englishman.
Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (6); Zappacosta (7), Christensen (6), Cahill (7), Palmieri (8); Loftus-Cheek (8*), Fabregas (6), Kovacic (6); Willian (7), Giroud (7), Pedro (5).
Substitutes: Hudson-Odoi (7), Moses (6), Kante (N/A).
STAR MAN – In a match which saw several of Chelsea’s squad players step up in place of the more regular starters to deliver for Sarri’s side, it was England youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek who really stamped his authority and technical superiority on Chelsea’s opponents.
The midfielder was industrious, creative and highly influential in leading his side to a comfortable win. Though Chelsea’s midfield is rarely short of technical competency, it occasionally lacks any real drive or forward-thinking initiative, and Loftus-Cheek proved he could be the long-term solution.
WORST PLAYER – Though his efforts were of strong intentions, Pedro generally failed to make his mark against BATE Borisov as the Spaniard couldn’t match his good energy and movement along the front line with a telling end product.
The former ?Barcelona star often found the ball caught under his feet in the vital moments as the winger struggled to make any real impact. Pedro has been far from a regular in Sarri’s Premier League sides and, based on his lack of capitalisation on his chance in European competition, Chelsea’s more favoured attackers have little to worry about in keeping their places.
Chelsea face a tough trip to Turf Moor as Maurizio Sarri’s side face Burnley away in their next Premier League game on Sunday, with a London derby at home to Crystal Palace looming a week later as the Blues look to continue their unbeaten start to their league campaign.
In other competitions, Chelsea take on a ?Derby County side managed by Blues legend Frank Lampard in a Carabao Cup clash which will see the legendary midfielder make an emotional return to Stamford Bridge on Halloween night next week.
The Blues’ next Europa League encounter sees Sarri’s side complete back to back meetings with BATE Borisov as Chelsea travel to Belarus next month.