Juan Mata Image 3
FC Nordsjaelland 0–4 Chelsea
THE score may suggest a romp, but this was no walk-in-the-Parken for Chelsea in Copenhagen.
Blues were well-below par and indeed struggled for long periods against a team that often outnumbered them in the possession statistics.
But three late goals restored the natural order, and Roberto Di Matteo will doubtless be happy wit the result, if not the manner in which it was secured.
Chelsea started well, with Victor Moses heading against the post early on following good work by Branislav Ivanovic and Oscar.
But for all their early possession Chelsea looked laboured and even, at times, handed the initiative to their opposition.
However, the Blues' superior quality paid off and just after the half-hour they took the lead.
In a move of real class, Fernando Torres took the ball to the left edge of the Nordsjaelland box and pinged it back to Frank Lampard, who threaded through a delightful ball for Juan Mata to run onto and score.
The goal was met with a roar, as thousands of not-so-undercover Chelsea fans situated around all four stands leapt in the air to celebrate.
In truth, the combination of fans travelling from London, and a long-standing and widespread Denmark-based Chelsea support, had turned this game on neutral territory into less of an away trip than the fixture list suggested.
Chelsea stuttered throughout much of the second half looking not quite bothered enough to go forward, and not quite solid enough to hold on to the ball.
Mikkel Beckmann could have twice equalised, before Di Matteo saw fit to intervene, replacing the largely ineffectual Moses with Eden Hazard.
But the change made little difference, and Blues continued to coast. That was almost very costly as Joshua John struck the woodwork, and Mario Ticinivic's follow-up was only just blocked with 15 minutes to go.
With things looking very dicey, Chelsea finally stepped up a gear – and, with the 80th minute approaching, doubled their lead.
A David Luiz free kick from 20 yards out by corner of the box, flew in - complete with Brazilian spin - off the inside of the post.
Three minutes later later it was three, Mata bustling with the ball through a crowd of defenders on the edge of the box, to turn and shoot past Jesper Hansen.
And it was four right at the last; Torres passing to Oscar, who took the ball to the line before crossing for a Ramires tap-in.
A good result for Chelsea's standing in the group, but they will have to improve their shape and passing before their trip to Shakhtar Donetsk in three weeks time.