Chelsea 3-1 BATE Borisov: Ruben Loftus-Cheek hat-trick steers Blues to comfortable win
Blues make it three wins from three
By Michael Hincks at Stamford Bridge
Last Updated: 26/10/18 7:20am
A Ruben Loftus-Cheek hat-trick inspired Chelsea to a comfortable 3-1 victory at home to BATE Borisov on Thursday night.
On just his second start of the season, it took Loftus-Cheek just two minutes to score his first Chelsea goal since April 2016.
The midfielder made it 2-0 six minutes later, and he sealed an unlikely hat-trick in the second half when curling an effort into the far corner (53).
Aleksei Rios scored a late consolation (79) for the Belarusian side, but victory maintains Chelsea's perfect start in Europe, and three wins from three in Group L means they are within touching distance of reaching the knockout stages.
Chelsea: Kepa (6), Zappacosta (8), Cahill (7), Christensen (8), Emerson (7), Fabregas (7), Kovacic (7), Loftus-Cheek (9), Willian (8), Pedro (7), Giroud (6)
Subs: Moses (6), Hudson-Odoi (6), Kante (6)
BATE: Scherbitski (6), Rios (7), Filipovic (6), Filipenko (6), Volodko (6), Baga (6), Dragun (6), Hleb (6), Skavysh (5), Signevich (5), Stasevich (5)
Subs: Ivanic (6), Tuominen (6), Yablonski (6)
Man of the match: Loftus-Cheek
Chelsea got off to the perfect start at Stamford Bridge, with Davide Zappacosta picking out Loftus-Cheek, who met the cross from 12 yards out before stroking it home.
Loftus-Cheek soon doubled Chelsea's advantage, turning in Willian's corner from inside the six-yard area, stealing ahead of team-mate Olivier Giroud.
Chelsea could have extended their lead further before half-time, registering 15 shots in the opening 45 minutes, but Willian saw an attempt saved, while Loftus-Cheek spurned a hat-trick opportunity when heading wide.
Chelsea made eight changes from the 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Saturday. Only Kepa, Mateo Kovacic and Willian remained in the starting XI. Eden Hazard was out with a back injury.
After the break, Loftus-Cheek started and finished an attack to complete his hat-trick, picking out Pedro before latching onto the loose ball and tucking an effort beyond goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski, who should have done better with the strike from 18 yards out.
Giroud's wait for a first club goal of the season goes on meanwhile, and it took a superb reflex save from Scherbitski to deny the Frenchman with 20 minutes to go.
Chelsea were hardly tested all night defensively, but they did go to sleep in the 79th minute, allowing Rios to tap in unmarked from a free-kick.
- Chelsea have won their first three group stage games in a season in major European competition for the first time since the 2010-11 Champions League campaign.
- Loftus-Cheek became the first English player to score a European hat-trick for Chelsea since September 29 1971; when Peter Osgood scored five goals and Tommy Baldwin netted three against Jeunesse Hautcharage in the Cup Winners' Cup.
- Loftus-Cheek's opening goal came with his first shot on target for Chelsea in 2018-19 (in his fourth appearance) - he then scored with his second and third shots on target of the season later in the game.
- Loftus-Cheek scored more goals in the opening 53 minutes of this match tonight (3) as he had previously in 35 games for Chelsea (2).
Man of the match - Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Who else but Chelsea's hat-trick hero? The three goals only tell the start of his near-perfect display at Stamford Bridge.
The English midfielder put in one of his best performances for the club, dictating play and driving the ball forward at every opportunity. He could have scored five on the night, and as he takes the match ball home, he also gives Maurizio Sarri something to think about when the Chelsea boss chooses his Premier League line-up on the weekend.
Chelsea return to Premier League action on Sunday, and will look to continue their unbeaten start to the league campaign when travelling to Sean Dyche's Burnley in a 1.30pm kick-off.