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Sensational Chelsea put Schalke to the sword


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Chelsea recorded their equal-biggest UEFA Champions League away victory with a stunning demolition of Roberto di Matteo's Schalke.

In a result that confirms the Blues' progression to the competition's knock-out rounds as group victors, John Terry gave his side the perfect start with a terrific headed goal from Cesc Fabregas' corner after just 86 seconds.

Willian then converted after a slick move - though he was helped by some haphazard goalkeeping from Schalke's Ralf Fährmann - before the hosts' kamikaze showing in the first half was capped when Jan Kirchhoff comically headed into his own net to give Chelsea an unassailable 3-0 lead at the break.

José Mourinho's men were unrelenting, however, and substitute Didier Drogba scored and turned provider in the space of two minutes; netting from close range before setting up Ramires' header.

That goal confirmed the evening's performance as arguably Chelsea's best showing of the season - which in itself is no mean feat considering the quality exhibited in the Blues' now nineteen-game unbeaten start to the season. The scoreline also matches Chelsea's famous 5-0 drubbing of Galatasaray in their iconic first ever foray into the Champions League.

Mourinho had talked up the need for a strong start in what was, on paper, at least, supposed to be Chelsea's toughest assignment of this group stage, but John Terry's header, inside 90 seconds - Chelsea's fastest Champions League goal, beating Didier Drogba's 170-second effort against Valencia in December 2011 - would have exceeded the Portuguese's expectations.

Barely four minutes had been played before the Blues' next glaring opportunity, as Branislav Ivanovic hammered a volley over the bar as he looked to capitalise on hesitant Schalke defending, but by the time the half-hour had passed Willian had already hammered the ball beyond Fährmann to finish off a flowing team move.

The Schalke goalkeeper was certainly at fault in letting Willian double Chelsea's lead, allowing the Brazilian's admittedly firmly-struck effort to sneak in at the near post, but he certainly made amends with an excellent reactionary save from Oscar's superb volley after Fabregas' exquisite through-ball.

Yet Fährmann was again cursing his luck as, from the resultant corner, Fabregas' delivery was again headed in - this time by his team-mate Jan Kirchhoff, who was booed off the pitch and subsequently replaced at half-time by the dumbstruck di Matteo, whose side - previously imperious at home under his tutelage, and unbeaten there all season so far - left the pitch half-way through what was turning out to be a footballing education by Mourinho's side.

It was a relatively low-key start to the second-half - expected considering the Blues' dominance prior to the interval - but the game exploded back into life as, on the hour mark, Ivanovic was a mere whisker away from thrashing a volley into the top corner from Willian's cross.

Max Meyer came on for Schalke and gave the home side a degree of impetus, but Thibaut Courtois was a virtual spectator in the Chelsea goal despite the German starlet's best attempts at galvanising his demoralised colleagues.

Diego Costa - who might have ended up on the scoresheet himself had WIllian not delayed a through-ball during a Blues counter-attack - was replaced by Drogba after 65 minutes, and within ten minutes of his introduction the Ivorian was celebrating his first appearance for Chelsea on German soil since his Champions League-winning penalty in May 2012 with a simple tap-in from WIllian's cut-back.

The Brazilian had been played in by Fabregas' raking pass, and unselfishly fed Drogba for his fourth goal of his second spell and 161st in total for Chelsea. The goal meant the Ivorian became the first African player to net 50 goals in UEFA competitions.

And merely 73 seconds later, he turned supplier as his whipped cross to the far post was expertly converted by Ramires, another substitute whose place in the team has come under extreme threat because of the form of Fabregas and Nemanja Matic, who was again at his peerless best at the centre of the Chelsea midfield.

Eden Hazard might have made it 6-0 in stoppage time but he was denied by a good save from the Schalke goalkeeper Fährmann, who had certainly made amends for his earlier mistake with a string of good stops.

The result means Chelsea are through and top the group regardless of what happens on matchday six against Sporting Lisbon at Stamford Bridge, and the Blues will now enter Saturday's tea-time tussle with Sunderland in even more buoyant mood.

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