Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Alexandre Pato relished rare opportunities in Chelsea’s first-team as the Blues eased to a 4-0 rout against struggling Aston Villa on Saturday.
- Aston Villa 0 Chelsea 4
- Loftus-Cheek opens scoring
- Pato strikes from the spot on debut
- Pedro adds double
England Under-21 international Loftus-Cheek opened the scoring after 26 minutes for the reigning champions, before former AC Milan striker Pato added a second with a penalty on his Premier League debut.
Spain forward Pedro bagged a second-half brace to condemn managerless Villa to their seventh-straight defeat, with the league’s bottom club seemingly resigned to relegation.
With Chelsea out of contention for a top-four spot, interim boss Guus Hiddink opted to hand talented young midfielder Loftus-Cheek only his second league start of the term, while January signing Matt Miazga also made his debut at centre-back.
Micah Richards and Carlos Sanchez earned recalls for the hosts, who had Eric Black in charge following the sacking of Remi Garde on Tuesday.
Chelsea were on top from the opening whistle, with ex-Barcelona man Pedro almost curling a shot into the top corner after only 10 minutes.
English football was given its first sighting of Pato when the Brazil international replaced the injury-striken Loic Remy midway through the first half, and shortly afterwards Chelsea were ahead – Loftus-Cheek converting Cesar Azpilicueta’s low cross at the near post.
Half chances fell to Villa, most notably Jordan Ayew, but as the game entered into first-half stoppage time, Aly Cissokho bundled Pato over inside the box, and the 26-year-old confidently finished from the resultant penalty.
Hiddink was afforded the luxury of throwing on playmaker Oscar at the interval, and less than a minute into the second half the Brazilian linked up with his compatriot Pato to leave Pedro with a tap-in from six yards out.
The diminutive Spaniard added his sixth league goal of the season just before the hour mark, squeezing the ball home from a tight angle after Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan failed to hold Pato’s shot.
As if things could have gotten any worse for the Villa faithful – many of whom held up signs which read “Proud history, what future?” in protest to Randy Lerner’s ownership of the club – right-back Alan Hutton saw red late on for an ugly-looking challenge on Loftus-Cheek.