Birmingham: Alexandre Pato scored on his long-awaited Chelsea debut as Guus Hiddink's experimental line-up piled more misery on Premier League bottom club Aston Villa with a 4-0 victory on Saturday.
Chelsea striker Alexandre Pato celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot during their English Premier League match against Aston Villa in Birmingham on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Interim manager Hiddink was without Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Willian, Gary Cahill and John Terry, but they were not missed as his side romped to an emphatic win at an angry Villa Park. Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored his first EPL goal for the club, while double from Pedro Rodriguez put the seal on their triumph in the second half.
Chelsea eye Europa spot
The victory for Chelsea kept alive their faint hopes of Europa League qualification. Chelsea were denied the opener by an offside flag after Pedro neatly controlled a Cesc Fabregas pass before lobbing the advancing Brad Guzan. The writing was on the wall for Villa though, and the visitors duly went in front with a well-worked move in the 26th minute via goal from Loftus-Cheek.
Chelsea's second goal arrived in first-half injury time when Aly Cissokho was penalised for hauling down Pato as the Brazilian – a replacement for the injured Loic Remy – tried to get his head to Fabregas's cross. The one-time Brazil star, a January loan signing from Corinthians, was not going to let the opportunity to make his mark at long last slip by and neatly tucked the spot-kick beyond the diving Guzan.
Villa were dealt another blow immediately after the restart and it was another Brazilian substitute, Oscar, who made an instant impact after being introduced in place of Kenedy.
Oscar burst down the left and played a neat one-two with Pato before providing a cut-back that enabled Pedro to score from close range. Against a backdrop of Villa fans chanting, "You're not fit to wear the shirt", Chelsea took an even firmer grip on the game.
The home fans must have feared a repeat of the 8-0 drubbing their side suffered at Chelsea in 2012 when Guzan could only push out a shot from Pato, allowing Pedro to squeeze home his second goal from a tight angle.
Villa's long-suffering supporters were finally given something to cheer as the returning Jack Grealish provided a belated spark, firing in a cross that the stretching Gestede was inches away from tucking home.