A HATRICK from Fernando Torres was one of many decisive factors as Chelsea trounced Queens Park Rangers at Stamford Bridge.
Daniel Sturridge set the tone by thundering home a drive inside the first minute, and from then on the Champions League finalists dictated the flow of the fixture.
Defender John Terry struck the second, comfortably beating Clint Hill in the air to nod past Kenny before Torres notched three goals either side of half time.
The Spaniard latched onto a fine through ball to round Kenny and open his account for the day before capitalising on a mix-up between the keeper and Nedum Onouha to prod home.
Juan Mata was once again the architect playing in Torres for a well-taken third, before substitute Flourent Malouda was left unmarked to notch the sixth.
Djibril Cissé kept up a phenomenal record of scoring in every game in which he hasn’t been dismissed, but it was too little too late for QPR as they slumped to a disappointing defeat.
Mark Hughes made two enforced changes from the side that beat Tottenham Hotspur, with goalscorer Adel Taarabt (suspended) and Samba Diakité (injured) both unavailable. Djibril Cissé and Ákos Buzsáky started in their stead.
Paddy Kenny started behind a back four of Nedum Onouha, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill and Taye Taiwo. Joey Barton, Shaun Derry and Buzsáky started in the middle with Cissé and Jamie Mackie playing wide of Bobby Zamora.
Chelsea started with Petr Cech behind a defence of Paulo Ferreira, Jose Bosingwa, John Terry and Ashley Cole. Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and Juan Mata comprised the midfield trio with Daniel Sturridge and Salomon Kalou playing off Fernando Torres.
KICK OFF: CHELSEA v QUEENS PARK RANGERS
It would be remiss of me to completely ignore the issue that hung over both sides coming into the fixture. John Terry and Anton Ferdinand seem embroiled in a race row that has prompted the legal implications of a pre-match handshake.
This was not observed as per an FA mandate prior to the fixture with Chelsea fans rather perplexingly victimising the defender Ferdinand, who in truth has not raised a complaint, made a comment or indeed been involved in any legal proceedings.
Nevertheless both started despite difficult circumstances – and it was the Champions League finalists that took to this fixture like a duck to water. Rangers were truly caught cold by a Chelsea side that appeared a yard quicker to every early ball.
Ashley Cole’s quick throw in worked its way to Daniel Sturridge and the forward showed the more positive side of his game to ride a challenge and rifle a rasping effort beyond Paddy Kenny – 48 seconds gone and QPR had a mountain to climb.
Djibril Cissé was looking a source of respite for a QPR side that was appearing over run in the early offing. A heavily sodden left side of the field was proving tricky work for the Frenchman, but he was able to elicit a couple of efforts that failed to truly work Petr Cech.
The fixture at large was never in doubt, but conditions on the field were heavy to say the least – rainsoaked and devoid of bounce on occasions, but the home side were adapting far better to the task of negotiating with such a surface.
Paddy Kenny was forced into a smart double save, first denying Salomon Kalou before a scissor kicked effort from defender Terry was comfortable for the QPR stopper – by far the more worked of the two custodians early on.
Frank Lampard then forced Kenny into another stop that prompted a corner from the right courtesy of Juan Mata. His testing set-piece was too much for QPR and ultimately Clint Hill who was beaten resoundingly by John Terry to nod home a costly second.
Rangers were falling apart from back to front with Bobby Zamora seemingly unable to retain possession while Chelsea fairly costed through a static midfield and into an unprotected back four – it was a defensive unit that was ripe for the picking at times.
Mata was proving the key architect in the heart of midfield, allowing those around him to do the dogged work before unleashing some of the attacking intent that the hosts had in abundance on the day.
It was Kalou that played key tormentor on this occasion however, sending a delightful slide rule pass for Fernando Torres. The Spaniard still had a lot to do, but coolly repeated his midweek heroics of the Nou Camp to round Kenny and slot home neatly.
Chances in riposte were few and far between as the more enterprising, attacking intent from QPR had reduced to its shell after several early goals. Joey Barton took matters by the scruff of the neck to see a deflected drive fly wide of the left hand upright.
Buzsáky’s resultant corner compounded the misery and was ably cleared away by the under-worked Terry. Barely minutes later and another comedy caper at the back only served to rubber stamp Rangers dismal defensive display on the day.
A deep, hopeful cross from Mata saw Torres and Sturridge vying for the ball – it was all rather speculative until a communication disaster between Nedum Onouha and Kenny saw the former Manchester City defender nod at his keeper from point blank range.
Kenny threw out a hand in vain to tip the ball to one side, but Fernando Torres was the man on the mark to prod home from close range and hand Chelsea another goal – truly epitomising what a one side affair this was.
All of this came before the half hour mark with Kenny managing not only to deny Mata of a tap in but also deny Kalou and Lampard in what was proving attack versus defence – Hughes held firm and refused to shuffle his pack despite the damning score-line.
Michael Essien was treated leniently by referee Howard Webb when two rather mistimed tackles went unpunished, but the consistency of the official was excellent throughout the opening period – refusing to let a potential powder keg boil over.
Nedum Onouha – a scorer against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season – went close when the unlikely attacker turned well outside the area before firing a speculative left footed drive up and over of Cech’s cross-bar.
Ferdinand did well to deny Lampard another unchallenged effort from distance before Essien chanced his arm from distance and served only to trouble the advertising behind the goal – nevertheless a player of his pedigree was foolishly allowed the freedom of the Bridge.
Mata and Lampard nearly carved out an opportunity for the now confident Torres, who exhumed an air of a forward in red-hot form – striking rather unfortunately over the bar to bring down the curtain on a truly dismal and one-sided half from QPR.
HALF TIME: CHELSEA 4-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Loftus Road seemed a long way away now as Rangers now had an impossible mountain to climb. Not even the most optimistic fan could see a way back against a buoyant Chelsea side who were able to rip Rangers open seemingly at will.
While Rangers were allowed more of the possession, owing much to the state of the fixture, the hosts were still by far the more likely to strike. This was epitomised when Cole’s neat pass was met by Mata, but Kenny did superbly to deny the Spaniard and reclaim some credibility.
Then came an effort to blow off the cobwebs. Buzsáky dispossessed Torres in the heart of midfield before laying to Mackie. The Scottish international drilled a fine effort towards the top right hand corner only to see the underworked Cech deny expertly.
Shortly before the hour mark Torres was thwarted once more by Kenny – it was a knife through butter at times for Chelsea’s dynamic midfield as weary legs from W12 failed to keep up with some excellent quick, passing football.
The Chelsea side were looking invigorated, bright and full of ideas – in stark contrast to those that rocked up a Loftus Road a few short months ago. Now they were knowledgable and wise to QPR who had very little in the way of riposte.
While the endeavour was evident from the visiting sides – that could not be called into question – but that vast gulf in class was more than evident. Mata helped underline this point when he scythed a defensive unit open once more in his search for goals.
Fernando Torres capped off his day with a fine hatrick, ghosting behind a static rearguard to roll with great composure beyond Kenny. Another nail in the coffin of QPR who were truly second best in all departments.
Hughes shuffled his pack by withdrawing the poor Buzsáky and seeing Armand Traoré come on in his stead. It prompted a shift that saw Cissé move alongside Zamora and for his part look more effective in the latter stages of the encounter.
Lampard seemed to take great delight in reigniting a simmering away support with several gestures made when unnecessary given the state of the fixture. He continued nevertheless to be one of many driving forces behind the Chelsea machine.
Rangers had a good opportunity when the lively Traoré started exploiting some space down the left flank. One of his well-crafted crosses culminated in Cissé nodding over from point-blank range when well-placed – it simply was not QPR’s day.
Mata and Kalou were withdrawn with Flourent Malouda and midweek goalscorer Ramires entering the field. It was the former that had his goal when Chelsea were once again able to unlock a rearguard bereft of ideas and confidence.
They combined when Brazilian Ramires was set free down the right before a deflected cross worked its way to the Frenchman Flourent Malouda who had the simplest of tasks in placing into an empty net – Hughes stood aghast on the touchline at the sheer collapse of his team.
Finally however, the corpse twitched. Onouha drove forward, riding two challenges to lay in Djibril Cissé. The striker was able to rifle a right footed drive beyond Cech and into the bottom left hand corner.
It was scant consolation for the majority of supporters that remained entrenched in the away end but nevertheless they enjoyed their moment on the day – they were all too fleeting so in truth no-one could blame them for doing so.
It seemed to invigorate Onouha alone who threw himself desperately at an effort from Malouda to deny the Frenchman a second. It appeared however that the players were out on their feet a beaten by class if not by effort.
Kenny apologised after the final whistle to the supporters that remained but nevertheless it could not help but hide the sheer disappointment that was palpable in the away end. It was poor – and in the two games to go Rangers must now make a marked improvement.
FINAL WHISTLE: CHELSEA 6-1 QUEENS PARK RANGERS