Bridge illuminated by the flight of Robben

Chelsea 4 - Blackburn Rovers 0
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The Independent Football

It takes some player to come on for the last 25 minutes and steal the thunder from a striker who has just recorded the first hat-trick of a distinguished career. That player is Arjen Robben and poor old Eidur Gudjohnsen will be wondering just how it could be that his three bolts of lightning did not have the Chelsea faithful repeating his name to each other as Stamford Bridge cleared after this utterly facile victory.

Indeed, there were a few other Blues performers shaking their heads at the injustice of it all. Damien Duff was at his twinkle-toed best, as was Joe Cole, while Scott Parker and Glen Johnson grabbed their chance in the first team with all the hesitation of a bull in a red rag factory. Both impressed with such verve and panache on their first competitive starts under Jose Mourinho that the Chelsea manager might think twice before re-installing his first choices at right-back and holding midfielder. But then again, when the alternatives are Paolo Ferreira and Claude Makelele perhaps the great tactician will not be wasting too much of his precious brainpower.

He will have to if he is not to include Robben in his plans, that's for sure. The sceptics might point out that by the time the Dutch international was introduced for his first competitive Chelsea outing on Saturday, Blackburn were a beaten and humiliated outfit just ready for a bit of bear baiting. But boy did Robben bait them, and boy could Blackburn not bear it.

"To be without the talent of Arjen for three months was hard for us," said Mourinho of the £12m summer signing, who broke a bone in his foot in pre-season. "It was good for the fans to at last get a sniff of Robben."

That was infinitely more than Lucas Neill got, as the unfortunate right-back who had to put up with Duff for more than an hour and Robben thereafter. The latter proved by far the more humbling experience as the 20-year-old bedazzled the Australian with his full repertoire, turning this way and that with breathtaking pace and whipping balls across the area that just begged to be put away.

If everyone else was stunned by the young winger's impact Mateja Kezman wasn't, having become used to the routine when the pair forged the famed "Batman and Robben" partnership at PSV. Unfortunately for the Serb striker still without a goal for Chelsea, he could not reprise his role in the Eindhoven double act, spurning at least three golden chances, one of these when he hit the horizontal from a full three yards. "Holy crossbar!" as they might say in Gotham City.

In truth, it mattered little for Chelsea whose principal crusader had long since donned his cape to protect against the driving rain and who was by now basking in the glory of his first treble. Gudjohnsen's first two were almost carbon copies - audacious chips over the top by Joe Cole in the 37th-minute and Frank Lampard 90 seconds later - and when the Icelandic's run was crudely cut short by Craig Short in the 51st minute there was only ever going to be one man taking the penalty.

That was that as far as Blackburn were concerned and all that was left was for Duff to remind everyone of his class with a rasping shot into the corner from 30 yards and for Robben to put the icing on the caked mud.

Alas, Mark Hughes has a problem of biblical proportions at a club that seem doomed to be led into relegation. There are rabid shopaholics not looking as forward to the January sales as Hughes happens to be.

Goals: Gudjohnsen (37) 1-0; (38) 2-0; (51 pen) 3-0; Duff (74) 4-0.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Johnson, Ricardo Carvalho, Terry, Bridge; Smertin (Tiago, 65), Parker, Lampard; Cole (Robben, 63), Duff, Gudjohnsen (Kezman 72). Substitutes not used: Gallas, Cudicini.

Blackburn (4-4-1-1): Friedel; Neill, Short, Matteo, Gray (Johansson, 84); Reid, Ferguson, Flitcroft, Emerton; Djorkaeff (Stead, 53); Dickov (Bothroyd, 53). Substitutes not used: Enckelman, Pedersen.

Booked: Chelsea: Parker. Blackburn: Flitcroft, Neill.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Man of the match: Robben.

Attendance: 41,546.

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