Samuel Eto'o was a one-man wrecking crew on Jan. 19 and delivered a performance for the history books against Manchester United.
The Chelsea star netted a hat trick in the Blues' 3-1 win at home over the Red Devils, scoring the club's only goals and single-handedly taking down the reigning Premier League champions.
As OptaJoe tweeted, Eto'o's first hat-trick since 2010 made history by joining a short list of players who have accomplished the feat against United:
4 - Samuel Eto'o is only the fourth player to score a Premier League hat-trick vs Man Utd, after D Bentley, D Kuyt and R Lukaku. Rare.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 19, 2014
Following the match, Eto'o expressed his emotions over his strong performance:
David Moyes' squad came into the match at Stamford Bridge reeling—coming off losses in two of their last three EPL matches—but looked poised to get back on track with some early scoring chances.
But it wasn't a red shirt that opened up the scoring; it was the lead attacker in Chelsea blue.
Eto'o converted the game's first goal in the 17th minute, when his shot attempt from the right-side outskirts of the box deflected off United's Michael Carrick, past goalkeeper David de Gea and curled into the net.
All the Red Devils had to show for their early threats was a 1-0 deficit.
In stoppage time of the first half, that deficit got much more insurmountable.
Gary Cahill found some space on the right side near the end line, and crossed it in front to an open Eto'o from six yards out. De Gea got a piece of it, but not enough. Chelsea suddenly held a resounding 2-0 lead at the break.
Eto'o's historic form did not waver during halftime. While he didn't save his best for last, he put himself in position to net a third and final Chelsea goal.
In the 49th minute Chelsea were awarded a cross, and a resulting header was just barely kept out by de Gea. The rebound found its way right to Eto'o, who finished it past the United goalkeeper to secure his hat-trick.
Eto'o did not seriously threaten after that, but neither did Chelsea. The last 40 minutes went back and forth and included a Javier Hernandez goal, but the Cameroon native's impact had already been felt.
By Eto'o's 49th-minute goal, it became known that he was just the second Cameroon player ever to notch a hat-trick in Premier League play, per Squawka Football:
Samuel Eto'o is the second Cameroonian to score a hat-trick in the Premier League. The first was Somen Tchoyi for West Brom vs Newcastle.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 19, 2014
The 32-year-old has tussled for a starting spot with Chelsea this season, as Jose Mourinho has flipped back and forth with Fernando Torres since the beginning of the title campaign.
Should Eto'o's performance earn him the starting striker spot?
Much of that has had to do with Eto'o's mediocre impact in his first Premier League stint, scoring three times in 11 appearances before the outburst on Jan. 19. Just as well, neither player has truly done enough to unseat the other for the near future.
But there's no denying his impact on this win.
Without Eto'o, it's hard to imagine Chelsea securing three points against a United squad that played hungry and unselfish football. Certainly a draw or even a win without him would have been possible, but it's no secret that Mourinho made the right decision to go with Eto'o in the starting slot.