ALVARO MORATA took just 81 seconds to make his mark – and then completed his first hat-trick in English football in a dazzling display of expert finishing.
Not a bad start for a bloke looking to prove himself after Diego Costa finally headed into the sunset and rejoined Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea, who made a number of changes ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Atletico, looks solid enough without getting out of third gear and Morata was the star man.
On the back of Costa finally leaving, Antonio Conte will have been delighted his replacement scored so early and then went on the rampage.
In only the second minute, Cesar Azpilicueta punted the ball long, Bruno Martins Indi appeared to be stuck in quicksand and Morata moved the ball inside the area with one touch before steering it past an exposed Jack Butland.
It was a decent finish and after three headers, this one was with his right boot.
Pedro’s second strike was even better and it was helped by a string of errors with Darren Fletcher the main culprit.
Erik Pieters delivered a weak header into the air, Fletcher chested the ball into the direction of Morata and Martins Indi was once again pedestrian.
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS – CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
Pedro took one touch before delivering a powerful shot across Butland for his first Premier League strike of the season
In the second half, Stoke fans demanded the dismissal of Marcos Alonso after he fouled Mame Biram Diouf having already been on a yellow card.
As a precaution, with the home fans screaming for blood, Alonso was substituted for Gary Cahill.
Meanwhile there was a scary moment as Thibaut Courtois appeared to be knocked out cold contesting a cross… only to play on for the rest of the game.
Fletcher’s bad day continued when he missed an easy chance with Diouf somehow sending the follow-up into the side-netting.
Glen Johnson and Fletcher were then outpaced badly by Morata who charged into the area before delivering a fine finish for 3-0.
With eight minutes left, Morata completed his hat-trick when Azpilicueta chested the ball into his path.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Going into the game, Stoke had suffered 13 Premier League defeats against Chelsea; more than they have against any other opponent.
- Chelsea had won seven of their last eight Premier League away matches (W7 D0 L1), scoring at least two goals in six of these wins prior to kick-off.
- The Blues needed only a point to reach 1,800 Premier League points – third-highest in the division’s history.
- Alvaro Morata’s goal was his first of the season to NOT be scored via his head – the other three were all headers.
- Since the start of last season, no Chelsea player has been involved in more goals than Pedro (27) than Diego Costa (29) after his goal at the bet365 Stadium.
- Chelsea went into half-time 2-0 up… having only taken two shots all game.
- Thibaut Courtois played on despite appearing to be knocked out cold in the 65th-minute contesting a cross.
WHAT THEY SAID
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte told BBC: “It was a good day, a good result for us. Stoke are a really good team and very strong.
“It was very difficult to win here but we deserved to win the game. We started well and scored early and were in control of the game. I repeat, it’s not simple to win away against them.”
Stoke boss Mark Hughes said: “They will be delighted with a 4-0 score. It has flattered them somewhat.
“We made too many mistakes against a team who can exploit that. Defensive errors took it away from us.
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
STOKE: Butland, Johnson, Martins Indi, Diouf, Pieters, Allen, Fletcher, Sobhi, Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting, Jese (Crouch 61).
Subs not used: Grant, Berahino, Tymon, Afellay, Adam, Souttar.
CHELSEA: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso (Cahill 59), Willian (Hazard 72), Pedro (Fabregas 68), Morata.
Subs not used: Caballero, Musonda, Zappacosta, Batshuayi.
Full ratings to follow shortly…