Chelsea make amends and get their campaign up and running
Steaua Bucharest, trampled underfoot by Ramires’s display in midfield in particular, had no answer
Chelsea’s Ramires celebrates with team-mate Branislav Ivanovic after his opening strike.
Steaua Bucharest 0 Chelsea 4: Jose Mourinho prowled his technical area wrapped up in long coat and scarf, wearing the scowl of a man still rather dissatisfied with his lot, but Chelsea’s response to a sluggish opening in their Champions League campaign had been emphatic. Steaua Bucharest were swatted aside, all that trauma endured against Basel a fortnight ago exorcised. The 2012 European Cup winners are up and running.
This was admittedly a mismatch and, to that end, should be considered with an element of caution. But there was a vibrancy to Chelsea’s play, both as they unpicked the home side in the first half and then bit into them on the break thereafter, that bodes well.
Steaua, trampled underfoot by Ramires’s display in midfield in particular, had no answer. The back-to-back collisions with Schalke in the London club’s next two fixtures are key.
They had merited the first-half advantage, their three creators unsettling Steaua from the outset. Juan Mata, revitalised since that run-out at Swindon last week, and Oscar interchanged as the central playmaker while Andre Schurrle, if unpredictable and occasionally wild with his distribution, hugged the left touchline and tormented Daniel Georgievksi.
Their opener stemmed from the German’s glide down the flank, his cross into the six-yard box aimed at Samuel Eto’o only for the ball to rear up from the substitute’s first touch. He swung his left leg regardless, the shot rather scuffed but still disorientating panicked home defenders, and there was the marauding Ramires to conjure a cute flick over the onrushing Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Just as Steaua mounted some frantic pressure of their own they were caught on the counterattack, Ashley Cole and Mata sending Eto’o charging into enemy territory with the Romanians’ back-line dishevelled. The Cameroonian cut inside Iasmin Latovlevici and saw his low shot pushed out by Tatarusanu only for Georgievski, at full pace, to smash the rebound inadvertently beyond his prone goalkeeper.
The career of Torres at Chelsea has been littered with false starts and his evening here was effectively ended after 11 minutes. An injury sustained as he tracked back to tackle Cristian Tanase, one bout of treatment proving insufficient and Eto’o duly summoned from the bench.
Frank Lampard might have added a third before Ramires did, a goal stemming from Schurrle’s brilliant spin and scurry away from Georgievski. The German’s cross found Oscar who cut a pass inside the full-back on the opposite side for Ramires, bursting unchecked into space once again, to thrash his second beyond Tatarusanu.
The Brazilian would later clip the angle of post and bar, with the visitors revelling in Steaua’s desperation. The closest they came was Lucian Filip’s suffocated effort from close range and Tanase’s clever chip from distance that was tipped over by Petr Cech, the goalkeeper floored after colliding with the woodwork. Bruises aside, this was all hugely productive with Lampard’s late fourth, guided in off a post from the edge of the area, underlining their superiority. Mourinho had reason to be content.