Chelsea’s Champions League title defence is over despite them beating Nordsjaelland 6-1 at Stamford Bridge tonight.
The Blues, who become the first champions in history to bow out in the group stage, held up their end of the bargain in devastating fashion but will have to settle for involvement in the Europa League after Shakhtar Donetsk failed to beat Juventus in Ukraine.
Fernando Torres returned to scoring ways with a double whilst David Luiz’s well-taken first-half penalty and goals from Gary Cahill, Juan Mata and Oscar far outweighed Joshua John’s early strike in the second half.
Chelsea made a bright start, testing Nordsjaelland keeper Jesper Hansen on a number of occasions inside the opening ten minutes before referee Bas Nijhuis became trigger-happy by blowing for three penalties within seven minutes after the half-hour mark.
The Blues once again had goalkeeper Petr Cech to thank when he came up with another penalty save in Europe, denying Wild Tigers skipper Nicolai Stokholm to his right in the 32nd minute after Cahill had been called for handball which was arguably just outside the box.
Minutes later, Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Cahill’s header hit the arm of Mikkel Beckmann but Hansen equaled Cech’s efforts down the other end by keeping out Eden Hazard’s mediocre attempt from the spot.
Amazingly, a third spot-kick was called in the 38th minute when Mata struck on goal from outside the box with the ball cannoning into the arm of Enock Adu. Luiz stepped up and this time there was no mistake as the Brazilian sent Hansen the wrong way and the Blues fans to cloud nine.
The second goal came in stoppage time of the first half when Victor Moses played a tasty ball into the path of Torres whose first-time effort was thwarted by Hansen before he expertly side-footed the rebound, after a hint of handball on the way down, into an empty net despite being under pressure from the Nordsjaelland defence.
Chelsea’s comfortable lead was cut down within 21 seconds of the re-start with Joshua John racing onto the end of Michael Parkhurst’s pinpoint ball and flicking past an advancing Cech to make it 2-1.
Soon enough though, the Blues were back to a two-goal lead when Cahill rose above the pack to produce a wonderful looping header from Mata’s deep right-flank free-kick.
In the 56th minute, Chelsea helped themselves to a fourth when Torres played Hazard in down the left before the Belgian produced a strong run and then played it back for the Spaniard who stuck out a shin at the near post for his second of the night.
The goals were flowing in Southwest London in the 63rd minute when Chelsea grabbed a fifth through Mata, who played a neat one-two with Hazard, before tucking home the rebound from his initial effort for his ninth of the campaign.
With 20 minutes remaining, Chelsea produced a sixth goal when Mata pounced on a defensive mistake before slotting it through for Oscar who needed no invitation to rifle past a helpless Hansen for his fifth of the Champions League group stage.
The rest of the match was academic as the Blues, winning their first match under Rafael Benitez, waited to hear if Shakhtar could return from a one-goal deficit to Juventus but a comeback at the Donbass Arena was not to be, ending the reigning champions time in Europe’s top flight competition this season and sending them into the Europa League.
UEFA Champions League – Group E
Stamford Bridge, London, England – 40,084
Yellow cards: CHE - David Luiz 90’
NOR - Anders Christiansen 37’, Michael Parkhurst 50’, Patrick Mtiliga 85’