Chelsea recorded their long-awaited first win under the charge of Rafael Benitez with a 6-1 demolition of FC Nordsjaelland on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge, but still crashed out of the Champions League.
The Blues became the first defending champions to exit at the group stage as Juventus triumphed over Shakhtar Donetsk to progress alongside the Ukrainian side.
In a bizarre first half, there were an incredible three penalties, with the two sides initially trading misses, before David Luiz sent his into the net in the 38th minute. Fernando Torres added a second before the break before Joshua John gave the Danish side hope straight after half time. But as their hopes of qualifying faded away due to events elsewhere, Chelsea rained in the goals through Gary Cahill, a second for Torres as well as strikes from Juan Mata and Oscar.
The result may provide some relief for Benitez after two draws and a defeat began his controversial reign. However, the subdued atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge suggests that the former Liverpool boss still has a long way to go before being accepted in west London.
After Victor Moses saw an early effort well saved by Jesper Hansen in the Nordsjaelland goal, the visitors looked like they could pour further misery on Benitez as they won a penalty just past the half-hour mark. Cahill blocked a shot with his arm right on the edge of his own box and the referee pointed to the spot, but Petr Cech saved his side with a fine stop from Nicolai Stockholm’s effort.
Cahill looked to have gotten his revenge just three minutes later as his header was clearly and deliberately blocked by the hand of Mikkel Beckmann. Hazard followed in Stokholm’s footsteps, though, as he failed to strike the shot with either power or accuracy and Hansen saved well diving low to his left.
Incredibly it would be just two minutes before Chelsea could make amends with a third penalty for handball and certainly the harshest of the lot. Mata’s shot struck the arm of Patrick Mtiliga, but clearly without any movement toward the ball as the defender jumped to make a block. Luiz took a long run up as if he was going to blast the ball through the net but instead placed it with the side of his food into the corner.
On the strike of halt time, Chelsea appeared to have made the result safe. Nordsjaelland’s defense was exposed as Victor Moses rolled a clever ball in between the back line and, despite seeing his first attempt blocked by Hansen Torres was able to end his goal drought by prodding home from the angle of the six yard box at the second attempt.
There was to be a brief moment of concern for Chelsea, as Nordsjaelland pulled themselves back into contention straight from the restart. A lovely ball over the top by Kasper Lorentzen beat Branislav Ivanovic and John got there ahead of Cech to prod the ball into the net first time.
Chelsea restored their two-goal lead just five minutes later. Mata swung in a free-kick from the right flank and Cahill rose strongly to plant a fine header into the corner of the net from 12 yards out.
It soon started to become apparent that Chelsea’s result would count for little as news spread that Juventus had scored a crucial goal to put them ahead against Shakhtar Donetsk just before the Blues added a fourth goal of their own.Hazard did well to burst through to the byline down the left and then sent the ball across goal for the waiting Torres to stick out a leg and get his second goal of the game.
Things were to get worse for Nordsjaelland as their first Champions League campaign ended with a whimper. Mata ran to the edge of the box before playing a neat one-two with Hazard and shooting first time at Hansen. The goalkeeper blocked the first effort well, but could do nothing to stop the Spaniard snapping up the rebound and turning the ball home.
There should have been another penalty too as Torres had his leg clipped from under him by the challenge of Enock Adu.
But Chelsea would not have to wait long before completing the scoring in the 71st minute. Mata was again at the heart of proceedings as his pass put through substitute Oscar and the Brazilian scored his fifth goal in the competition with a swerving striker past Hansen.
As fans streamed out of the stadium with Chelsea’s fate clear for all to see, Torres missed an opportunity to do himself some favors as he struck straight into the arms of Hansen with a hat-trick at his mercy.