Christmas came early for Chelsea as Santa rewarded the Blues for a successful year with eight goals, as the European Champions thumped Aston Villa on an evening to remember for the hosts.
Seven different scorers all joined in on the fun — it was only Ramires who scored a brace — setting a new Premier League record of seven different players to have scored for the same team in one game.
It was emphatically brutal, as Chelsea offered Villa little mercy, firing in more shots on target against today’s opponents than any team in any Premier League game this season.
And to pile further misery for the distraught Midlands side, it was the first time in 3936 top-flight games that Villa have conceded 8 or more goals in a game. They may well want to forget this game quickly, but the stat books will certainly prolong the agony as long as possible.
As for Chelsea, Rafael Benitez must surely be winning more and more fans by every goal. The Blues have scored 14 in their last two games at Stamford Bridge, and though support for Roberto Di Matteo was still sung, the overall consensus was that Benitez deserved praise for an unrelenting display.
Hard work was made of the Leeds cup-tie in mid-week, but Chelsea versus Aston Villa has always seen plenty of goals in recent history, from a 7-1 victory, to a 4-4 draw five years ago.
And of the last 18 league games to see a team score six or more goals, Chelsea are responsible for eight of them.
So with David Luiz shifted further forward into midfield, and the trio of Mata, Hazard and Moses ably supporting Torres, it was easy to understand why hopes were high for another exhibition display.
And the tone was set ominously for Aston Villa just two minutes and nine seconds in. Fernando Torres recorded his earlier Premier League goal with a thumping header, beating his old record set versus Blackpool in January 2011 by a whopping four seconds.
It was encouraging signs shown by the Spaniard, who now records his seventh goal in six league games. The power in the header, and from such distance, did justice to a superb cross from his compatriot Cesar Azpilicueta.
Juan Mata could have made it two a quarter of an hour later, but a poor touch put an end to a promising David Luiz pass.
It was, however, the defender-cum-midfielder who scored his side’s next.
Lining up in Ronaldo-esque fashion, the Brazilian lifted the ball eloquently over the wall and past a hapless Brad Guzan. It was a magnificent goal, which certainly helped ease any Chelsea pressure to double their advantage. The humble 25-year-old credited Frank Lampard for teaching him the artistry behind such a set-piece.
Of the five defenders to score five or more league goals since the start of last season, three play for Chelsea (Ivanovic 7, Terry 7, Cahill 5). And one set piece goal lead to another moments later.
A corner whipped in was struck goalwards by Gary Cahill, but Guzan was there to make a great save. However, it was Branislav Ivanovic who pounced home before Guzan could get back to his feet, and two became three for the Blues, with an hour still left to play.
Aston Villa had been unbeaten in their last five Premier League games, so it was an anomaly that they failed to show up in the first half.
Their misery was further compounded by a vintage Frank Lampard goal. The England international recorded his 130th Premier League goal for Chelsea in his 500th start, with this classic half-volley being the 33-year-old’s first goal in the league from outside the penalty area in April 2011.
However, a vital intervention was needed by Petr Cech to make sure the visitors did not get back into the game soon after. Weimann’s shot looked destined to ripple the back of the net, but a strong Cech hand pushed it onto the bar.
But, bar that, it continued to be all Chelsea. Lucas Piazon was afforded his Premier League debut as Chelsea turned on the style, and he assisted Ramires for Chelsea’s next goal. The former Benfica man nutmegged Guzan to record Chelsea’s fifth.
A quick succession of penalty kicks offered Chelsea to take the game into an embarrassing state.
Oscar was fouled by Herd, and converted the penalty high to the keeper’s right, before Hazard rifled in Chelsea’s next goal to make it seven from open play.
Eight could have come from a Piazon penalty, with the youngster wanting to score after being tripped himself, but Guzan saved a well-taken shot.
It mattered very little, however, as Ramires put the cherry on the cake with a shot in stoppage time, which Guzan helped into the corner of the net.
A horror show for Aston Villa, but a nice treat for Chelsea. Merry Christmas.