Chelsea forgot their Premier League woes and got their Champions League campaign off to a flying start with a 4-0 thrashing of Israeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv in their opening Group G match at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Despite Eden Hazard blazing an early penalty high over the bar, Chelsea scored twice in the first half with Willian finding the net with a 30-metre free kick after 15 minutes and Oscar scoring from their second penalty with the last kick of the opening 45 minutes.
Diego Costa, who replaced Willian after the Brazilian was injured after 20 minutes, brilliantly volleyed in Chelsea’s third after 58 minutes with Cesc Fabregas finishing off a breakaway for the fourth after 78.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had not seen his team win since Aug. 23 with two successive league defeats in their last two matches but he told reporters afterwards: “I forgot what it was like to win, so it’s a good feeling.
“The penalty we missed was a big test for us. When you start a game you have to win and after five minutes you miss a penalty, it is an extra negative episode and our reaction was very good. I am very happy with the performance.”
Maccabi, back in the competition proper for the first time in over a decade after coming through the qualifiers, went close through skipper Eran Zahavi and Nosakhare Igiebor, but Chelsea, 17th in the Premier League with one win from five matches, were never seriously troubled and could have scored seven or eight.
Their manager Slavisa Jokanovic, a former Chelsea midfielder, conceded: “Welcome to the Champions League, it is not the Israeli Premier League.
“They dominated us, but we will learn.”
Mourinho made six changes to the side beaten 3-1 at Everton on Saturday with captain John Terry among those on the bench, although Fabregas, who has lacked his usual creative inspiration, retained his place and had a hand in the third as well as scoring for the first time since April.
The lack of confidence and poor form that has blighted Chelsea’s start to the campaign was apparent when Hazard blazed his penalty over the bar.
German referee Felix Zwayer showed leniency to Maccabi’s Serbian keeper Predrag Rajkovic though, only giving him a yellow card for bringing down Willian — and the goalie did not have to move as Hazard fired high and wide.
Willian avenged that foul in the 15th minute when his 30-metre free kick bounced once and flew past the slow-moving Rajkovic to give Chelsea a deserved lead.
Chelsea dominated but had to wait until the last kick of stoppage time before doubling the lead when Oscar scored from the spot after former Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim scythed down substitute Costa.
Costa volleyed Chelsea’s third on the turn just before the hour mark and Fabregas tapped in a fourth as Chelsea won their opening home Champions League match of the season under Mourinho for the first time, at the fourth attempt.