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  • By Paul Lagan

Qarabag hit for six as Chelsea run riot in Champions League

Chelsea's Pedro celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Champions League, Group C match at Stamford Bridge, London.

Chelsea thrashed Azibajan side Qarabag FK 6-0 tonight as Champions League football returned to Stamford Bridge in the most emphatic fashion. First half strikes from Pedro and a misplaced ‘worldly’ from Davide Zappacosta eased the Blues back into the European fold after a year’s absence. From there, it was an attacking masterclass against a side devoid of any serious attacking potential, and who are destined to new the whipping boys in Group C which also includes Atletico Madrid and Roma. Cesar Azpilicueta, substitute Tiemoue Bakayoko, Batshuayi and an own goal sealed the visitors’ fate.

After an opening couple of minutes to acclimatise, Chelsea took command of possession if not the goal-scoring as a succession of attacks on goal, firstly by Marcos Alonso, then Cesc Fabregas and Michy Batshuayi failed to reap dividends. But that changed in dramatic fashion in the fifth minute when Pedro, picked up the ball from Willian and smashed home a fantastic 25-yarder that zipped past goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. The visitors recovered well after that set-back and kept the ball well, winning corners and free-kicked in the process. A smart Donald Guerrier saw his effort clear Thibaut Courtois crossbar but not by much. Gary Cahill, back in the side following a tree-match ban for his opening day sending off against Burnley, was yellow carded for a needless foul on 15 minutes. Batshuayi should have doubled the score on 18 minutes but he took one touch too many and rammed the ball into the side-netting. But that was more than made up by new-boy Davide Zappacosta, who, on 30 minutes raced clear on the right. After 60 yards, he looked up and thought to send in a trademark cross. But instead the ball arrowed straight into the back of the net, wrong-footing Sehic and to be fair everyone else in the packed stadium. It had echoes of the goal Spurs’ Harry Kane scored at the weekend. Nevertheless, the Italian, signed for £22million in the transfer window from Torino, celebrated as if it was the greatest strike in the world – it looked it. There were no changes at second half by either side. But the game was just the same. 10 minutes in and Cesar Azpilicueta scored his first Champions league goal for the Blues after a deft clip by Fabregas onto the head of Azpilicueta on the six-hazard box, and the Spanish defender glanced threw ball home. Eden Hazard entered the fray two minutes later, replacing Pedro. Tiemouse Bakayoko followed onto the pitch at the expense of N’Golo Kante on 63 minutes. Willian crashed a rasper off the crossbar on 67 minutes as the Blues went in search of the goals that may make the difference in a group that has Atletico Madrid and Roma in it. Number four came swiftly after – Bakayoko tapping home from close range. The final Chelsea substitution came with 16 minutes left on the clock, Greer a defender Antonio Rudiger replaced Azpilicueta. Qarabag were the architects of their own downfall aminute later as slopping defending saw Bakayoko grab position just outside the visitors penalty area. He took one touch to pass to Batshuayi, who cooly slotted home from the edge of the area to put the Blues 5-0 up. The striker through he had notched up his second, 10 minutes from time as Zappacosta disposed Jakob Rzezniczak on the byline. He tapped the ball across to Batshuayi, and he and a combination of Maksim Medvedev bundled the ball home for number six. In fact the centre-back was awarded the goal. Next up for the Blues is a little London Derby, against Arsenal, at the Bridge on Sunday.

Chelsea: Courtois Alonso, Fabregas, Kante Pedro, Zappacosta, Willian, Batshuayi, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta Subs: Cazballero, Rudiger, Morata, Bakayoko Hazard, , Moses, Luiz

Qarabag: Sehic, garayev, Medvedev, Michel, Ndlovu, Henrique, Sadygov, Almeida, Rzezniczak, Huseynov, Guerrier, Subs: Kanibolotdkly, Amirguliyev, Madatov, Elyounoussi, ismayilov, yunuszada, Diniyev

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