Chelsea comprehensively outplayed BATE Borisov to go 6 points clear at top of Group L in the Europa League. With 3 consecutive wins, Maurizio Sarri's men have one foot in the knockout stages.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek justified his selection by netting his first ever Chelsea hat-trick, a set of goals that would do a world of good to the England international. Two first-half strikes followed by a third in the 54th minute sealed the deal for The Blues who have now extended their unbeaten run to 13 matches - with 10 wins and 3 draws. Alexei Rios scored a late consolatory goal for his side.
They dominated a larger share of the game, racking up passes and creating chances at regular intervals. Although the visitors put bodies behind the ball and moved it well at times, they simply couldn't handle Chelsea's quality.
They gained a major foothold on the game as early as the 2nd minute, when Loftus-Cheek found himself free near the penalty spot. Zappacosta, who replaced captain Cesar Azpilicueta at right back, perfectly found the midfielder, who was in no doubt.
Lack of urgency while defending proved to be too costly for the Belarusian champions. Neither did they prevent crosses, nor did they defend them. As a result, Loftus-Cheek converted a corner and put the game to bed in the 8th minute.
For the rest of the first 45, proceedings flew in the same manner, with Chelsea recycling possession, taking on players, and trying to carve out openings.
Zappacosta looked threatening and direct down the right, combining with the likes of Pedro and Victor Moses. He struck a swerving shot in the 66th minute, but Scherbitski was equal to it.
Maksim Volodjko had an opportunity, but there wasn't much quality from BATE in the higher third to test Arrizabalaga.
Here are three reasons why Chelsea beat BATE Borisov 3-1.
#1 Early pressure followed by two goals meant that it was game over
If we look at Chelsea's first two games of this Europa League, they have totally outclassed their opponents but not managed to win comfortably. An early goal from Willian against PAOK ensured 3 points, while Alvaro Morata's 70th minute strike after a flurry of missed chances saw off MOL Vidi.
In both the above outings, The Blues created chance after chance, but only scored one goal. In the dying stages of both those games, they easily could have been robbed of 3 points.
This time around though, the all-rounder in Ruben Loftus-Cheek illustrated how clinical he can be in front of goal. We shall look at his momentous influence on the game later in another slide.
Right from the word go, the hosts established complete control over the pace of the game. With some quick movement, sharp dribbling and outstanding link-up play, they caused a sense of confusion amongst the opposition ranks.
This early pressure coupled with BATE's lack of concentration ensured two early goals for The Blues. While Willian and Pedro expressed themselves, Cesc Fabregas, who absolutely enjoys space and time, sprayed passes all over the pitch.
The likes of Emerson and Davide Zappacosta surged forward with purpose, and showed how dangerous they can be while going forward. Thus, this early pressure and 2 goals meant that it was game over right then.