BY PAUL LAGAN
It was goals galore at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea went on the rampage routing Everton 4-0 to cement fourth place in the Premier League and pile pressure on Leicester City who, while having a game in hand, are only two points ahead of the Londoners.
Goals from Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud sent the visitors, who must have been afraid of coronovirus as they failed to touch the ball let alone a Chelsea player for most of the game.
Such was the ease of the game that head coach Frank Lampard had the luxury of blooding a couple of more youngsters – Tino Anjorin and Armando Borja for the final few minutes.
He already had Mount, Billy Gilmour on the pitch from the start but also added Reece James for good measure.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford produced a world-class reaction save to keep in-running Mason Mount’s shot from going in after just seven minutes.
It came from a swift break which saw Willian zip in an inch-perfect right byline cross. The midfielder latched onto it and his first-time goal-bound effort was brilliantly blocked by Pickford to keep it 0-0.
But brilliant approach play on 15 minutes saw the hime side take the lead and the ball fell to Mount who took a touch, on the edge of the Everton penalty area, before coolly slotting home past Pickford and his right post.
Ross Barkley set Willian free on 19 minutes, but this time Pickford was able to parry away a blistering right-footed daisy-cutter.
Number two came on 22 minutes when a four-man move cut right through Everton’s midfield and defence leaving Barkley with the assist with a special through ball that allowed Pedro to race clear and caress the ball past Pickford to double the west Londoner’s lead.
Everton should have got a goal back on 27 minutes when Marcos Alonso set Kurt Zouma up to fail, but the centre-back made a hash of holding onto the ball and the Chelsea back four was exposed allowing Dominic Calvert-Lewin to cut through, but he sent his effort wide of Kepa’s left post to spare both the Chelsea defenders’ blushes.
Everton replaced Bernard for ex-Arsenal winger Theo Walcott at half-time, Chelsea kept the same starting 11.
It took six minutes after the restart for the Blues to smash number three. Again excellent approach play saw Willian on the edge of the Everton penalty area. Instead of passing to his right for Azpilicueta, the Brazil winger opted to left fly and the ball arrowed with venomous velocity past Pickford.
The visitors just capitulated and within three minutes, Chelsea scored number four. Willian was the provider from a short corner, and Olivier Giroud was on the spot to tap home from close range an angled shot that nestled in the side netting of Pickford’s goal.
Pickford thwarted Pedro on 58 minutes.
Mount was replaced by Reece James on 60 minutes.
Tino Anjorin came on for Willian with 20 minutes left on the clock to mark his Premier league debut.
The Poole-born midfielder, 18, had played first team football for the Blues in their 7-1 EFL win over Grimsby Town.
He was quickly followed by Armando Borja, 18 an Albania youth international striker.
By then, of course the game was well and truly over.
Teams: Chelsea, Kepa, Rudiger, Alonso, Barkley, Willian, Pedro, Zouma, Giroud, Mount, Azpilicueta, Gilmour
Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Batshuayi, James, Tomori, Anjorin, Borja
Everton: Pickford, Holgate, Keane, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Sigurdsson, Diane, Sidibe, Bernard, Gomes
Subs: Stekelenburg, Baines, Walcott, Mina, Iwobi, Kean, Gordon
Referee: Kevin Friend