Torres leads Chelsea past Genk

Chelsea 5 Genk 0

Fernando Torres must wish he could face Genk's injury-ravaged defence every week after his first Champions League goals for two-and-a-half years helped Chelsea romp to victory at Stamford Bridge tonight.

The £50million man made it four goals from his last four games to edge ever closer to putting his nightmare start to life in London behind him.

The Spaniard could easily have doubled his Chelsea tally on a night which saw Raul Meireles net his first goal for the club and Branislav Ivanovic and substitute Salomon Kalou also find the net.

The good news for Torres is that he has to wait less than a fortnight to face the same opponents, when a victory would all but certainly seal the Blues' passage from Group E.

How they might fare beyond that remains to be seen, with Barcelona the elephant in the room for any club with serious ambitions of becoming European champions.

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas yesterday predicted the end of Barca's dominance of the club game but the question is whether his own side will be ready to capitalise when that eventually does happen.

The fans are certainly beginning to believe, with the threatened mass boycott of tonight's game by those angry at ticket prices failing to materialise - Stamford Bridge packed almost to capacity for a European match.

It quickly became clear the 38,518 crowd would get value for money, despite the six changes that saw both captain John Terry and new talisman Juan Mata rested.

The 3,500 Genk supporters made more than their fair share of noise, their chants almost as colourful as the visitors' magenta strip.

They certainly enjoyed watching Torres somehow poke Nicolas Anelka's seventh-minute chip forward against the post, which briefly suggested another turbulent outing for the striker on his first appearance at Stamford Bridge since his moment of madness against Swansea.

Meireles spared his former Liverpool team-mate's blushes a minute later, the midfielder given an age to line up a shot from 25 yards which found the bottom corner.

Torres did not have to wait long to make amends for his miss either, Frank Lampard drifting all too easily into space and threading in the Spaniard, who calmly stroked the ball home.

Chelsea were hungry for more and while their passing did not bear comparison with Barcelona, their pressing high up the field did.

They were also breaking with pace and Khaleem Hyland was booked after resorting to a desperate lunge to halt the marauding Florent Malouda, who spent the entire night trying to back up his claim this week that he was worth a new contract.

After David Luiz was cautioned for a typically over-enthusiastic tackle on Jelle Vossen, Malouda should have made it 3-0 midway through the half but he sidefooted Torres' cutback wide with his weaker right foot.

Torres was also a constant menace and he duly bagged his first double for Chelsea in the 27th minute when he got in front of his marker to glance Meireles' cross beyond Laszlo Koteles.

Lampard missed a glorious chance from Torres' cross as the Blues put together their best football of the half, with Anelka also drilling wide.

The fourth goal duly arrived three minutes before the break, more shocking marking allowing Ivanovic to head in Malouda's free-kick from the right.

The only downside from Chelsea's dominance was Genk star Kevin De Bruyne being denied the chance to showcase the talent that has long seen him linked with the Blues.

He showed some neat touches in the second half as the home side eased off, withdrawing Ashley Cole during the interval, Lampard with 20 minutes remaining, and Bosingwa late on.

Otherwise, Chelsea might easily have added to their tally, with Torres failing to connect properly with Luiz's lofted ball, Malouda's run and shot saved by Malouda and Genk substitute Fabian Camus getting away with knocking Lampard over in the box.

Jose Bosingwa, Meireles and Kalou both sent long-range drives too close to Koteles before the latter made it 5-0 18 minutes from time.

It should have been Torres' hat-trick but Koteles saved from point-blank range, with Kalou coolly converting the rebound.

Malouda headed over late on as he failed to cap his performance with a goal but the damage was already done.

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