Chelsea secured their spot atop of Group E on Wednesday with a convincing 5-0 win over group minnows Genk. The Belgium side seemed out manned from the start as Chelsea started the scoring only eight minutes in when Raul Meireles unleashed a dipping shot from 25 yards out that found the bottom right corner.
Minutes later Frank Lampard found Fernando Torres on a through ball into the box. The forward, whose struggles have been well documented, took advantage of the rest forced upon him by his Premier League suspension as he slotted the ball around the Genk keeper, effectively ending the game before it really had began.
Torres would get his second of the night with a glancing header directed into the side netting after being set up by a delectable Meireles cross. With only minutes to go in the first half, Chelsea earned a free kick. Florent Malouda stepped up to the ball and delivered a cross into the box. Branislav Ivanovic was able to get his head to it and gave the Blues a comfortable 4-0 lead before the whistle.
Torres would have a flurry of chances in the second to give him his first hat trick in over two years, but it was not to be. Instead he would put a tap in off another Meireles cross into the hands of the Genk keeper. The power was enough to create a rebound which Salomon Kalou put home for the final goal of the match.
Genk is not the best of sides Chelsea has or will face, but you can only beat the team you play. They were expected to win with ease and did so convincingly. A result like this may not seem like much on paper, but it does much for confidence as they head into tougher challenges.
Cech did not have to do much as the Genk attack was all but nonexistent. He did come off his line a few times to gather some through balls and punched one or two out on a cross. Sometimes a keeper can be lulled to sleep in matches like this and let in a howler. Cech kept his confidence from start to finish to give him his first clean sheet in almost a month.
He looked somewhat out of it at times especially on defense. He was struggling with the pace of the Genk winger. However, no goals conceded is what he aims for and that's what he got. Cole made up for any defensive trouble with some brilliant attacking play. His ball movement helped create a goal and kept the Genk defense on their heels all night.
The Serbian is developing into one of the best defenders not only on this team, but in the world. A big reason for the goose egg on Genk’s scoreboard was his strong presence that deflected every attack with a subtle ease. His positioning was perfect and his decision-making was always right. He was rewarded with a goal by doing what he does best: getting big in the air and heading the ball home. With him on the back line, Chelsea will always be a difficult team to score against.
Luiz started off the game a bit rough. As usual he was getting out of position and really seemed to be the one that would be exposed if it were to happen. As the game progressed he got a little better, but still was not at the top of his form. However with the game over very early, it was refreshing to see the ambitious center back understand his defensive duties and not make unnecessary runs. Hopefully he can use this game to develop further into a better center back.
I admittedly have been hard on Bosingwa in the past, but he was great today. He continually got forward as usual, but did not ignore his defensive duties in doing so, He made some great tackles on that left-handed side. Going into the match he knew most of the Genk attack would come from his side, as that is where their young starlet Kevin De Bruyne plays. He handled it so well that nearly nothing came in the way of threatening the Chelsea goal from there.
This was by far his best game in a Chelsea jersey. He opened the scoring by making Genk pay for leaving him too much room on the outside with an impressive shot. He picked up an assist with a great cross to Torres. Beyond that, his presence and hustle kept the ball pinned in the Genk half for long stretches and pretty much neutralized any threat they made against the Chelsea goal. This match shows that against these lesser sides, it may be better to rest the starters as Meireles can do more than hold his own.
This was a smart game to give the kid his first big start, and he did not disappoint. You could see a bit of nerves in his first two touches, but by the time Chelsea took the lead he was well-settled. He won ball after ball in the midfield and was a great distributor in the attack. Against a team that is his level like Genk, he showed why he was one of the best youth products in the Barca system. What the heck do they put in the water over there!?
For those who doubted Lamps' time has come and gone, here is another example of why you should not be speaking. He was brilliant today as he was finally allowed to be the kind of player that he always has. He found open space just behind the midfield and just in front of the defense and just fed ball after ball to the charging forwards. His assist on Torres’ first was a thing of simple beauty and confirms that the two can play together.
Slow, methodical, simple. These are not adjectives you would use to describe a good performance, but in the case of Anelka it was. He has played this way forever and can sometimes annoy the fans ahs he holds up a developing counter. But it is hard to argue with results. His presence on the pitch continues to translate into Chelsea wins and that reason is enough to keep him playing.
Most will probably point to this game as another reason that Malouda’s time has come and gone at Stamford Bridge. He was more selfish on the ball than anything as he seemed to sometimes simply refused to pass and elected for the glory himself. On one particular counter, he decided to take on the Genk keeper from a sharp angle rather than passing it to a wide-open Anelka for an easy tap-in. And that is his good friend! Overall not too bad, but he must play more with the team or he could be gone come January.
It is rare that a straight red card works in your favor, but it seems to be the case tonight. Torres was coming off basically a two-week rest and played like he was born again. From the opening whistle he was threatening the Genk net. His two goals were well-deserved and hopefully will instill some confidence in him as the season progresses. Most importantly, it was the first game in a while where he took some steps forward toward his old self, but did not fall back by game's end. Now if he could only figure out that left foot!
In his first appearance in some time, Ferreira did not have that much to do. With the game well in hand by his introduction, it was more about seeing the contest out. He did so well and was even threatening in the attack. He has kind of been forgotten at Chelsea, but his experience that he showed tonight should always be in the back of our minds.
His speed was the most pervasive thing in his performance tonight. He kind of kick-started the attack once again upon his entry. His goal was relatively easy given its nature, but it was bouncing waist high and we have seen easier misses. This was not exactly a game that will redeem him for his earlier mistakes, but on the road toward it nonetheless.
He did not play enough time to earn a grade.