LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Dejected Laszlo Koteles of KRC Genk after conceding his side's fifth goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Chelsea and KRC Genk at Stamford Bridge on October 19, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Chelsea vs. Genk at Stamford Bridge isn't exactly something you'd expect to be a close match, and it wasn't. This game was always going to be the easiest fixture of the Blues' 2011 UEFA Champions League campaign, it it also came at a time where Genk, the defending Belgian champions and owners of a certain Kevin de Bruyne, were going through a major injury crisis in the back. It turns out Fernando Torres is good when there are no defenders on the pitch to stop him.
Anyway, Chelsea rested John Terry in favour of the... energetic David Luiz and handed Oriol Romeu a first Champions League start as the holding midfielder. Elsewhere, Raul Meireles came in for the injured Ramires in the midfield, and Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka came in on the wings, with Torres (who isn't suspended for European play) leading the attack.
From the beginning, Chelsea were the better side, and it didn't take long until they showed it with a gorgeous ball over the top by Meireles which Torres took down, half fell over, and then clonked against the post from six yards with only Laszlo Koteles to beat. It was a pretty comedy moment, and it came so early that nobody was particularly worried that it would change the course of the game or anything, but I think in the back of everyone's mind that little voice that said 'oh no, not again*' was starting to make itself heard.
*Mine sounds like Alvin the chipmunk. Just that specific voice, not all of my thoughts. That would be scary.
Trepidation lasted all of thirty seconds as on the very next play Meireles found himself in space, pushed forward, and thumped a lovely long-range shot that swerved and dipped its way into Koteles' bottom corner. That goal - Meireles' first for the club - made it 1-0, and the team's second was soon to follow, Torres shrugging off his early miss to guide a low shot from the edge of the box past Koteles. It wasn't actually a very good effort, and a better goalkeeper would have kept it out, but they all count the same.
So we'd had a Torres right footed goal and a Torres left-footed attack of the sads, but we hadn't seen a) a good goal or b) a header from the Spaniard yet, so he gave us both at once in the 27th minute, when Raul Meireles laid in a lovely cross that Torres guided into the bottom corner with a flick of his blond locks. It was a very good goal, and he deserved a brace for his first-half play, which was superb.
Elsewhere, David Luiz was having one of his crazier outings, with the Brazilian defender committing about ten fouls in the first half and eventually picking up a deserved booking, after which point he started behaving a little better. Fortunately for Chelsea, Oriol Romeu was on fine form as the holding player, completely uncompromising in the tackle and distributing the ball well. As for Genk... well, they had a couple of nice passes via Kevin de Bruyne. And that was it, apart from kicking Ashley Cole in the area and getting a free kick for it.
A strong first half performance was capped off with a fourth Chelsea goal, and it all started when Anelka - another strong performer - went sprinting down the right, forcing Daniel Pudil into a foul and a booking that will cost him the next match in Genk. Florent Malouda took the free kick, Branislav Ivanovic got the touch, and poor Koteles was left in his goal on the verge of tears.
Chelsea apparently felt pity on their hosts and turned easy mode on in the second half, pulling off Cole for Paulo Ferreira, who played left back for the first time since the days of Hammurabi. Without Cole's threat on the left, Chelsea never looked as fluid in the second half, but they were still comfortably better than Genk and ought to have been given a penalty (again) when Frank Lampard was fouled in the area, only to get up, try to keep going, and fall over again.
That was amongst the England midfielder's final contributions to the match, with Salomon Kalou coming on in his place. The Ivorian got a goal shortly after his arrival and actually played very well, holding up the ball and dancing through defenders. His goal (a rebound tap-in after Torres' hat-trick was denied by Koteles) was just reward for a couple of amazing runs, and it was nice to see a much-reviled player celebrating.
Apparently 5-0 is the point at which Andre Villas-Boas lets Malouda do whatever he wants, because the rest of the match was characterised by him picking up the ball in good positions and firing it over the crossbar and wide from 30 yards. It's also the point at which Alex is allowed to play football again, and we were nearly treated to one of his free kick specials when David Luiz was fouled going away from goal. Alas, the howitzer mojo was not with Alex this time around, and his relatively tame effort trickled wide.
Anyway, that was an entirely predictable 5-0 victory. Everyone played well, Petr Cech didn't need to do anything, and we're top of the group, five points clear of third place. Qualification is now all but wrapped up. Hurray!
Oh, as an aside, Stamford Bridge was fairly close to full today. Apparently the only people boycotting today's match were the visitors.
Chelsea's man of the match?
Nicolas Anelka (8 votes)
Fernando Torres (223 votes)
Oriol Romeu (39 votes)
Frank Lampard (7 votes)
Raul Meireles (26 votes)
Other (1 vote)
304 total votes