Chelsea responded to their worst league start for nearly 30 years with a comfortable win in their Champions League opener against Maccabi Tel Aviv, courtesy of goals from Willian, Oscar, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues may be floundering domestically, but once again they lead the way for English clubs in Europe after Arsenal followed Manchester United and City in making a losing start. Willian's opener from 35 yards may have been fortuitous, as it evaded a crowd of players before bouncing in, but from the moment the Blues took the lead, there only ever looked like being one winner.
Costa emerged from the bench to earn Chelsea a penalty for their second goal, netted home by Oscar. He then scored his first in the Champions League for the Blues with a volley from Fabregas's cross. The Spain international has endured a tough start to the campaign, with one goal compared to seven at this stage last time round, but looked more like his old self on Wednesday.
Hazard, on the other hand, again struggled to repeat the form that saw him named the PFA player of the year last season, although Chelsea did not need any of his magic against their very weak visitors. The Belgium international still appears short of his effervescent best, blazing a sixth-minute penalty waywardly over the bar. It was their first home win of the season and second in all after a miserable start to the campaign which has sparked suggestions of a crisis.
Sterner tests await Jose Mourinho's side-first up the Gunners at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but there were signs of improvement against an albeit limited opposition. Captain John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Costa were omitted, with Baba Rahman among those drafted in, making his debut at left-back.
Maccabi Tel Aviv advanced by beating Basel in the playoffs, but never looked like emulating the Swiss side, who beat Chelsea home and away two years ago. The Israeli team are managed by former Chelsea midfielder Slavisa Jokanovic, who last season led Watford to the Premier League and a 3-0 FA Cup third-round loss at Stamford Bridge. Jokanovic was hoping for a tighter contest, but there were gaping holes in his side's defence from the start.
Mourinho was infuriated Predrag Rajkovic was not sent off for bringing down Willian for the first spot-kick, but luck was on the Blues' side as the Brazilian curled in a free-kick which evaded everyone. He later went off with a hamstring problem, with Costa coming on. Goalkeeper Rajkovic might have conceded another penalty when Loftus-Cheek was brought down two minutes before the interval.
Costa, who failed to net in Europe for the Blues last term, emphatically volleyed in a cross from Fabregas, a combination which worked wonders for Chelsea in the first half of last season but has stuttered since, before the Spain playmaker struck the fourth on the counter-attack. Hazard burst down the centre, played it right for Loic Remy, whose shot was palmed by Rajkovic into the path of Fabregas to score.
However, there were still signs of weakness which the visitors failed to exploit. Eran Zahavi missed a free header and Nosakhare Igiebor somehow failed to convert after 88 minutes as Chelsea kept a clean sheet for the first time this season.
Here are the goals from the match:Published 17 Sep 2015, 11:33 IST