Fernando Torres ended his Champions League goal drought in emphatic fashion as the Chelsea striker’s double inspired a 5-0 demolition of Genk at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Torres had gone 875 minutes without scoring in Europe’s elite club competition, a miserable run that dated back to April 2009 when he scored for Liverpool against Chelsea.
But the Spaniard finally got back on track with two clinical finishes against the woeful Belgian champions.
Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles opened the scoring with his first goal for the club, but it was Torres who took centre-stage with his brace.
Branislav Ivanovic added the fourth goal just before half-time and Salomon Kalou completed the rout in the second half.
Torres, who now has four goals in his last four appearances, will be back on the sidelines on Sunday as he serves the final game of his domestic suspension when Chelsea face QPR.
But the much-maligned forward has done all he can to ensure he returns to the team after that ban.
His efforts ensured Chelsea remain top of Group E, one point ahead of second placed Bayer Leverkusen, after the biggest win of boss Andre Villas-Boas’s reign which equalled the club’s largest ever Champions League victory.
“We were happy to score very early,” Villa-Boas said. “That put us in a very comfortable position.
“In a game that everyone expects you to win surprises can happen but we were able to keep our concentration and get a good result.”
Genk manager Mario Been added: “We lost to a great opponent and I’m happy it was just 5-0. It’s not a shame to lose to Chelsea. They have too much quality and play on totally another level to us.”
Been’s team arrived in west London ravaged by injuries and Villas-Boas clearly felt Chelsea could take all three points without being at full strength as he rested John Terry and Didier Drogba, while Juan Mata dropped to the bench.
Chelsea threatened immediately and Torres timed his run perfectly to meet a Meireles pass, but with just goalkeeper Laszlo Koteles to beat he scuffed a tame shot against a post.
Fortunately for Torres, the Belgians looked terrified whenever Chelsea crossed the halfway line and it wasn’t long before the Blues were ahead.
Meireles was granted acres of space to advance towards the Genk penalty area in the eighth minute and, as the Belgians naively continued to back off, the midfielder took advantage with a fierce shot from 25 yards that flashed past the flat-footed Koteles.
Genk’s lack of awareness at the back was exposed again in the 11th minute when Torres increased Chelsea’s lead.
Frank Lampard clipped an incisive pass towards Torres and Genk’s back-four parted like the Red Sea as the Spaniard ran clear on goal, took two touches to settle himself and dispatched a cool finish beyond Koteles.
Torres was a constant danger and he drifted out to the left flank before cutting back inside to whip over a low cross which Florent Malouda pushed wide and moments later surged past two defenders to lash just over.
After months of misery, Torres must have been licking his lips at the sight of such accomodating opponents and he grabbed his second goal in the 27th minute.
When Meireles curled over a cross the Genk defence stood statuesque as Torres met the delivery with a glancing header into the far corner.
Ivanovic bagged the fourth goal in the 42nd minute when he headed home from Malouda’s inswinging free-kick and even Genk’s lurid pink kit couldn’t hide the blushes of Mario Been’s side as they trooped off at half-time.
Chelsea had no need to extend themselves after the break but they kept Koteles busy with efforts from Malouda and Bosingwa before substitute Kalou made it five in the 73rd minute.
Jose Bosingwa crossed from the right and Kalou was on hand to tap in after Koteles blocked Torres’s initial effort.
Watch video highlights below:
Chelsea 1-0 Genk (Meireles)
Chelsea 2-0 Genk (Torres)
Chelsea 3-0 Genk (Torres)
Chelsea 4-0 Genk (Ivanovic)
Chelsea 5-0 Genk (Kalou)