Chelsea who is group along with FK Qarabag ,Roma and Atletico Madrid hit up the group having failed to qualify last season marked their Champions League return with a 6-0 Group C rout of Azerbaijan’s Qarabag on Tuesday, but sterner tests await.
Goals from Pedro, Davide Zappacosta, Cesar Azpilicueta, substitute Tiemoue Bakayoko and a Michy Batshuayi double ensured a comfortable return to Europe’s elite after last season’s first absence since 2003-04.
Chelsea next play Atletico Madrid with the saga surrounding Diego Costa rumbling on, before home and away clashes with Roma. It is those games which will determine the Blues’ progress or otherwise.
Pedro opened the scoring with a 20-yard curler from Willian’s lay-off.why Batshuayi then scored twice in the final 15 minutes – firing in from outside the box after being picked out in space by Bakayoko and then scrambling home Zappacosta’s cross.
Italy right-back Zappacosta, on his first Blues start, ran 50 yards down the right wing, before sending over a cross that flew past Ibrahim Sehic.
Cesar Azpilicueta headed home a third after the break from Cesc Fabregas’ cross.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte – whose side face seven games in 21 days – was able to name striker Alvaro Morata, Bakayoko and three of the back five who beat Leicester at the weekend on the bench. Captain Gary Cahill returned after a three-match domestic ban but was largely untested – although he was booked for a reckless foul.
Antonio Conte endured a difficult summer in west London and an even more difficult start to the season with that home defeat to Burnley on the opening day.
But quietly Chelsea have turned things around with three wins on the bounce and now find themselves back near the summit of the table.
Eden Hazard, yet to start this season for the Blues after an ankle injury, was given 32 minutes to boost his match fitness before Sunday’s game against Arsenal.
BBC Sport report that,Chelsea manager hailed a “perfect start” to their Champions League return.
He said,”To play the first game, then to win with a good result, to score many goals, to finish the game with a clean sheet – I saw a lot of positive things tonight,” he said.
On his five changes, he said: “To play in the Champions League it means the coach trusts you. My message tonight was this: I trust all my players, not with only words, but with facts.
“If we think like last season to play with only 13 players, we are crazy. We have to improve all these players to try to create a positive competition between them.”
And he says the Blues will not rush Hazard back from his injury.
“We must have a bit of patience with him and to try to give the possibility for Eden to recover very well.
“We must be calm and to do the best for the player and for the team. Otherwise we risk a bad injury to delay the situation. This is the right way. This process is good for him.”
Qarabag boss Gurban Gurbanov said: “The game was very difficult for us. Chelsea played very good. Chelsea is a favourite for the tournament.
“We made lots of errors and I accept we must play even better. But I am satisfied with the way we played.”
Chelsea have turned things around with three wins on the bounce and now find themselves back near the summit of the table.