A second-string Chelsea side cruised to a triumphant 6-0 win, thanks to six different goalscorers. Cahill, Bertrand, Mata, Romeu, Torres and Moses all gave their goalscoring record lift-off in the inaugural Capital One Cup campaign, as Chelsea recorded their biggest win in over 18 months.
It was the total opposite of the nerve-wracking, tense 1-0 win at the weekend, with a performance of real fluidity, chance after chance — and capitalising on them.
Roberto Di Matteo promised rotation after that testing Saturday victory, and Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses both made their debuts — Marko Marin would from the bench too — whilst the youthful prodigy that is Lucas Piazon started out on the right-wing.
Fernando Torres retained his place by virtue of being the only fit Chelsea striker, whilst John Terry was captaining the side after announcing his retirement from the international game. The noise when his name was read out was beyond deafening.
The need for a fast start was highlighted by Roberto Di Matteo after the Stoke game. An early goal relieves a lot of pressure, and Chelsea did not only get one, but two, inside the first seven minutes.
The first came from a set-piece, with Juan Mata lifting the ball to the far-post, where John Terry’s potential England successor Gary Cahill rose highest to head home.
And before Wolves could even regroup, Chelsea doubled the lead. Romeu’s long-range hit was not fully dealt with by Wolves, and Piazon found Bertrand, who hit the ball hard and true into the top corner.
This was the time to assert Chelsea control, and the Samba skills of Piazon nearly merited a third, who was unlucky not to make contact with a Azpilicueta cross.
The rest given to Mata once again showed, as the diminutive Spaniard pulled the strings in the absence of Eden Hazard, and to great effect, culminating in Chelsea’s third.
A one-two with Ramires was met with a one-two with Torres, and before Wolves could blink again, the ball found its way into the back of the net: a classy goal.
Stale Solbakken’s big dilemma was to shut up shop or to attack. In fairness to his side, they huffed and puffed, and Turnbull was called to action just shy of the half-way mark in the first half, tipping over a David Davis effort, before being caught out, only for Peszko to hit the side-netting after rounding the former Middlesbrough goalkeeper.
But if he hoped that would revitalise Wolves and spur on a comeback, he was wrong. Indeed, it proved to be an anomalous one-off, with Chelsea continuing where they had left off five minutes after the break.
Oriol Romeu, who had his 21st birthday yesterday, was given the belated honour of converting Chelsea’s fourth from the spot, after Moses was fouled by De Vries. It was a real touch of generosity and togetherness to give Romeu the unfamiliar task, but the Spaniard did the rest.
It was about time Fernando Torres got into the act before the papers type up their daily criticisms, and the Euro 2012 top scorer headed home Chelsea’s fourth from a Mata corner.
The pace of the game slowed down as substitution met substitution, with Oscar, Marin and Hazard all enjoying a run-out, but the damage was done with the three quickfire goals within the first 17 minutes.
One suspects Arsenal will be a tougher test at the weekend.