Chelsea and Everton served up a nine-goal cracker as Jose Mourinho’s Blues claimed an amazing 6-3 win at Goodison Park.
After seeing major title rivals Manchester City slip up earlier in the day, Chelsea made a blistering start. Goals from Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic had the Blues two to the good inside three minutes.
Everton shook off the double blow, and Kevin Mirallas scored just before the interval to give the home side hope.
The scoring continued after the break, with the opposing sides trading goals. Every time Chelsea scored, Everton hit back—until Ramires grabbed the telling fifth goal for Chelsea 13 minutes from time.
The Premier League now takes a backseat as international football takes over, but before that, there is the small matter of the transfer window closing on Monday.
With Fernando Torres heading to AC Milan, Mourinho is on the lookout for a striker. Loic Remy could be the man—Chelsea reportedly have activated his release clause, per BBC Sport—but with Costa in such devastating form, the Frenchman would be the back-up act.
If Costa carries on in this vein, he will surely take the Premier League top-scorer prize. The big prize is the league title, and the Spain international’s goals could be the difference.
Chelsea spent big in the summer, but it appears they also spent wisely. It took summer recruits Cesc Fabregas and Costa 35 seconds to open the scoring.
Fabregas collected the ball near the halfway line and threaded a delicate pass into the path of Costa. The forward came into the game as an injury doubt, but he looked 100 per cent as he took the ball in stride and slammed his shot under Tim Howard.
Cesc Fabregas has now made 4 assists in the Premier League this season in just 2 games and 1 minute of football. #CFC— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 30, 2014
Chelsea doubled their lead inside three minutes. Ramires slipped the ball into the path of Ivanovic, who stroked the ball into the corner. It was a fine finish, but there was a strong suspicion of offside.
While Everton could feel aggrieved about the second goal, a huge slice of fortune went their way shortly afterwards, when Howard came to the edge of his box to collect a long ball. The keeper got his bearings slightly wrong and handled the ball outside the area before falling back inside.
Eden Hazard pleaded for handball, but the officials elected not to take action. If it had been judged a handball—which it was—a red card surely would have followed.
Howard about a yard outside the box when he catches the ball. Shocking officiating from the linesman.— Joe Krishnan (@joekrishnan) August 30, 2014
Everton steadied the ship and thought they had cut the deficit on 16 minutes, when Sylvain Distin turned the ball in after Romelu Lukaku’s header from a corner had crashed against the bar. However, the Toffees defender was narrowly in an offside position.
This brings us to the Chelsea No. 1 role, which appears to belong to Thibaut Courtois. He has already turned in a couple of assured displays, and he showed his qualities again on 35 minutes when calmly moving across his line to catch a swerving drive from Mirallas. Many keepers would have elected to push the ball away to safety, but Courtois held it with ease.
Yet another assistant’s decision was in focus shortly before half-time, as Costa appeared to beat the offside trap but the flag went up as he raced in on goal.
On the brink of half-time, Everton gained a foothold. An excellent Seamus Coleman cross from the right invited the header from Mirallas, and he did not disappoint. The forward attacked the ball and glanced his effort across the face of Courtois and into the net.
Lukaku had a chance to bite the hand that used to feed him shortly after half-time, but he blazed over the bar from 20 yards.
The Fabregas-Costa axis was on show on 53 minutes, with the former slipping the latter in on goal. On this occasion, though, Howard was able to stick out a leg and make the save.
Tim Howard becomes the first goalkeeper to save a Diego Costa shot this season. It took 221 minutes of action...— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 30, 2014
Chelsea came under pressure in the second half, but they weathered the storm and earned a third goal on 67 minutes.
Hazard's dynamism crafted the goal, as he beat his marker on the byline and drove towards goal. He looked to flick the ball across goal, but it hit Seamus Coleman and squirmed over the line for an own goal.
Everton are made of stern stuff, and as such, they struck back immediately. A superb run from the right from Aiden McGeady had Chelsea on the back foot. He slipped the ball in to Steven Naismith, who slammed an unerring finish beyond Courtois.
Chelsea had a fight on their hands, but on 74 minutes, they hit a hammer blow. Distin and Leighton Baines were slow to close down Nemanja Matic on the edge of the box and paid the price as the midfielder's shot took a slight deflection on its way past Howard.
Everton simply refused to lie down. Samuel Eto'o, who only moved to Goodison Park this week after spending last season at Chelsea, showed his scoring class with a brilliant header just two minutes later.
The Goodison Park crowd got their money's worth, as an eighth goal came Chelsea's way on 77 minutes. Ramires played a one-two with Matic before clipping a shot beyond Howard.
5 goals in 11 minutes. Like 5-a-side in the park.— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) August 30, 2014
It was breathless stuff, and Chelsea needed a stunning one-handed reflex save from Courtois to deny Mirallas and secure the three points.
Costa put the gloss on a fine display by slamming the ball beyond Howard after seizing on a horror moment from Muhamed Besic, who gifted possession to Chelsea.
Diego Costa: A
If the former Atletico Madrid forward is carrying a slight knock, then this performance will strike fear into all of Chelsea’s opponents. Full of pace and power, the forward grabbed his third and fourth goals in Blues colours. He was a menace all game.
Cesc Fabregas: A
Costa was the big-money summer recruit, but the purchase of Fabregas was equally astute. The Spaniard always seemed to find himself in space when receiving the ball against Everton. To do so all the time is down to more than just luck.
Tim Howard: B+
The United States keeper could do little about Chelsea’s goals, but he demonstrated his qualities with a host of other saves. It should be noted that he was fortunate to be on the field to make those saves after handling the ball outside the area and also getting involved in a spat with Costa and Cesar Azpilicueta after Everton's own goal.
Mourinho was delighted with the attacking quality his side demonstrated.
Jose: 'My team made defensive mistakes but the quality of our football was fantastic. Every time we had the ball we were dangerous.'#CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) August 30, 2014