Chelsea 3-1 BATE Borisov

Chelsea 3-1 BATE Borisov: Ruben Loftus-Cheek hits hat-trick to send a message to Maurizio Sarri as he shines under the Stamford Bridge lights in rare start

  • Ruben Loftus-Cheek fired Chelsea into the lead inside two minutes to set them on course for a big victory
  • The English midfielder added his second of the evening just minutes later to put Chelsea in cruise control
  • An error from goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski sealed Loftus-Cheek’s first hat-trick for the club in the second half
  • Aleksey Rios pulled one back for the visitors late on but Chelsea were already on their way to the three points 

If any individual’s situation surmises the peculiar and exasperating life of a young English hope at a leading Premier League club, it is surely the fate of Loftus-Cheek.

His lot for England is not much shout about this season, either. Just the 61 minutes, in the least important game of the campaign, the friendly win over Switzerland. In the Premier League, it is almost half that amount, with a combined 33 minutes against modest opponents in Bournemouth and Huddersfield.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek looks delighted as he puts Chelsea into the lead against Bate Borisov within the opening two minutes

The English midfielder fired emphatically into the Bate Borisov goal to give Chelsea an early lead in the Europa League game

Loftus-Cheek got the final touch on the ball to double Chelsea's advantage inside 10 minutes and set them on course to a win

Loftus-Cheek curls in his third goal of the evening to complete his hat-trick and put Chelsea three goals in front of their rivals

Loftus-Cheek raises his arms towards the crowd as he completes his hat-trick and gives Chelsea a three-goal lead

Loftus-Cheek is congratulated by his Chelsea team-mates after scoring completing his hat-trick on Thursday night

CHELSEA (4-3-3): Kepa, Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson, Fabregas, Kovacic (Kante 77), Loftus-Cheek, Willian (Moses 57), Pedro (Hudson-Odoi 60), Giroud.

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Subs not used: Caballero, Rudiger, Barkley, Morata.

Goals: Loftus-Cheek 2, 8, 54

Manager: Maurizio Sarri

BATE BORISOV (4-3-3): Scherbitski; Rios, Filipovic, Filipenko, Volodko; Hleb (Ivanic 59), Dragun, Baga (Yablonski 76); Skavysh, Signevich (Tuominen 71), Stasevich

Subs not used: Berezkin, Volkov, Chickan, Moukam.

Goals: Rios 80

Bookings: Hleb

Manager: Alyaksey Baha

Referee: Paolo Mazzoleni (Italy)

On both occasions, Chelsea were winning and in control. So he is not perceived by Maurizio Sarri as a difference-maker and his outings have almost worn the feel of an apologetic offering by the Italian to save him the next bout of hassle in a press conference.

Most remarkably, 922 days and two managers have now passed since Loftus-Cheek last started a Premier League match for Chelsea.

A starting place here, therefore, as meek and modest as Bate Borisov may be, represented dizzy heights for Loftus-Cheek in a Chelsea shirt.

As far as auditions go, it was a blistering one. By scoring a hat-trick, he joined club legends Didier Drogba, Gianluca Vialli, Tommy Baldwin, Peter Osgood and Terry Venables as only the sixth player to score a hat-trick in European competition for Chelsea. So if he had a point to prove, it was emphatically made.

His first contribution was most memorable for passing a ball out of play and Sarri shaking his head.

Thankfully matters improved quickly and by the hour mark, Chelsea supporters were singing ‘Loftus-Cheek, he’s one of our own’ and for all the club’s relentless success under Roman Abramovich, homegrown talent is the one ingredient they have been missing.

The home support were further encouraged when Callum Hudson-Odoi, an U-17 World Cup winner with England last year, arrived for the final half-hour.

His first major statement came inside 103 seconds as Loftus-Cheek timed his run perfectly to meet a low cross from Davide Zappacosta and fire Chelsea into an early lead.

Loftus-Cheek wheels away in celebration as his shot finds the back of the Bate Borisov net for his first goal of the evening

Loftus-Cheek guided the ball into the net with a sly touch on a good cross to put Chelsea 2-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes

Loftus-Cheek appears to release a certain level of frustration as he shines in a rare start for Chelsea on Thursday night

Aleksei Rios hits the back of the net to give BATE Borisov a glimmer of hope with 10 minutes remaining at Stamford Bridge

Rios (with the ball) runs back to the centre of the pitch as they rush to restart after pulling a goal back on Thursday night

These matches against feeble European opponents are always more straightforward when you strike early and the game was done and dusted inside eight minutes. It was Loftus-Cheek again, holding off his marker inside the six-yard box and hooking Willian’s corner into the goal.

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For Chelsea, it made for a pleasant evening and if not food for thought, it may at least leave manager Maurizio Sarri with more cigarette butts to chew as he plots the future of Loftus-Cheek.

Loftus-Cheek, who may also have earned a penalty when pushed to the ground by Stanislaw Dragun in the second-half, sealed his hat-trick when a curling right-footed strike from distance passed through the grasp of goalkeeper.

His was a rampant, dominant performance and he may have had a fourth when he galloped onwards beyond the Bate defence and forced a fine stop from the goalkeeper.

The positives were spread throughout a Chelsea side that featured eight changes from the weekend draw against Manchester United, where Andreas Christensen’s father may have been appeased by his son’s return to the back four and Cesc Fabregas, without a minute of play in the Premier League this season, ran the midfield.

The floodlights at Stamford Bridge sparkle in the night sky as Chelsea winger Willian fires in a corner kick during the first half

Former Chelsea midfielder and current Derby County manager Frank Lampard (left) watches the tie from the executive boxes

Former Arsenal player Aleksandr Hleb, 37, tries to get his side into the match by taking on Chelsea defender Emerson

Loftus-Cheek uses his ability on the ball to evade Bate Borisov's defence in their own penalty area as the match continues

There was a clue, too, for Sunday’s trip to Burnley, as Ross Barkley, who scored against United, was rested and Mateo Kovacic started.

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It was, in truth, an night of almost embarrassing ease. Chelsea had over 20 shots on goal and the visitors’ late consolation only came when Chelsea switched off at a set-play and Aleksey Rios stabbed in at the far post.

Nevertheless, Group L of the Europa League has been all but wrapped up before the clocks go back. Chelsea are a Champions League team operating in the Europa League and the chasm between the two sides was bewildering at times. Fabregas, operating as a quarter-back, had the freedom of the Bridge to dictate play, almost releasing Willian with a piercing 60 yard ball over the top.

On a night Stamford Bridge was spared the latest episode of Alvaro Morata’s personal trauma, Olivier Giroud stepped into the breach looking to end his own run of 636 minutes without a goal in a Chelsea shirt.

The Frenchman, as ever, led the line gallantly but he was slow to react when fed by Willian and was denied by fine defending when attacking a Willian cross. He then spun Yahor Filipenko and struck powerfully goal, only to be denied by a fine save. His wait goes on and for one night only, Chelsea revolved only around Loftus-Cheek.

Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic goes close to breaking his almost two-year goal drought with some neat footwork in the penalty box

Olivier Giroud of Chelsea goes up for a header against Egor Filipenko of BATE Borisov (21) and goalkeeper Denis Shcherbitski

Marco Ianni (left), Chelsea's coach who incited fury from Jose Mourinho by celebrating in front of him, was present at the tie

The two teams line up under the floodlights at Stamford Bridge prior to kick-off in the Europa League group-stage match

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