Michy Batshuayi bagged a hat-trick as Chelsea dispatched of Championship side Nottingham Forest with ease on Wednesday evening, with the Blues progressing to round four of the Carabao Cup.
Antonio Conte rang the changes, with no fewer than nine fresh faces coming into the starting XI – including debuts for Willy Caballero (in goal) and Charly Musonda, as well as first starts of the campaign for Eden Hazard and Kenedy;. All of those who featured gave Conte some welcome selection problems.
Two ahead after 20 minutes
It took a mere 13 minutes for the Blues to get the ball rolling, with Antonio Rudiger’s delightful cross-field ball falling perfectly to the Brazilian Kenedy, who applied the finishing touch from close range.
Forest were the architects of their own downfall for Chelsea’s second goal – failing to clear their lines before Eden Hazard poked through again for Batshuayi to grab his first of the evening. With 19 minutes on the clock, it promised to be a long evening ahead for the Reds.
Forest, who themselves made eight changes from the team beaten by Wolves on Saturday, improved when 2-0 down and came close to halving the deficit when on-loan Everton midfielder Kieran Dowell hit the bar with a 20-yard free-kick, which had Caballero beaten.
Game over by half-time
Chelsea put the game to bed before half-time through debutant Musonda, who latched on to Cesc Fabregas to fire past Henderson in the Forest goal – a goal that clearly meant a lot to the youngster, and his vociferous celebration will endear him to the home fans.
In the second half, it was the Eden Hazard show – with the Belgian integral to the Blues’ fourth goal. His pace allowed him to get away from the Forest defence following another Fabregas through-ball; he then demonstrated his usual strength and guile by dummying and shimmying around the Forest defence, before coolly laying off to Batshuayi to grab his second of the evening.
Conte then seized the opportunity to rotate his squad even further, giving first-team debuts to Ethan Ampadu, Dujon Sterling and Jake Clare-Salter, who all looked comfortable in the first team environment.
Batshuayi completes hat-trick
Batshuayi completed Chelsea’s scoring, although he didn’t know too much about it; bundling home following Kenedy’s rasping half-volley that rattled the crossbar to take home the match ball.
The only blotch on the copybook for Chelsea was Tendayi Darikwa’s consolation goal for the Reds – which was no more than Forest deserved for their plucky performance. And make no mistake – the 4,000 fans that had travelled from the East Midlands celebrated accordingly.
The Blues have been drawn at home to Everton in the next round of the Carabao Cup, but attention for both teams turns to league action this weekend, with Chelsea travelling to Stoke on Saturday and Forest facing an away fixture at Aston Villa on Saturday evening where they will be hoping to get back to winning ways.