Alvaro Morata helps banish memories of Diego Costa as hat-trick fires champions Chelsea past Stoke

Stoke 0 Chelsea 4: The Spaniard scored his first Blues goals with his feet while Pedro added another as Antonio Conte's men thrashed the Potters

Alvaro Morata helped himself to a hat-trick with the champions far too good for Stoke
Alvaro Morata helped himself to a hat-trick with the champions far too good for Stoke

This was supposed to have been the afternoon when Chelsea would regret having fallen out with Diego Costa.

Mark Hughes may like to argue that his club have lost their rough edges but Stoke away is a test of character, of fight and of a will to win. It was a contest Diego would have relished. Instead, Chelsea’s attack was led by a forward, who in the words of his manager, Antonio Conte, is the kind of man you would like your daughter to marry.

Dear, sweet Alvaro Morata, the boy who would turn up on your doorstep with a bunch of flowers, hit a hat-trick and Stoke were routed in their own stadium in a way they have rarely been. After completing his hat-trick, by putting away an assist from Cesar Azpilicueta for the fourth time in his embryonic Chelsea career, he had two more chances to score. He might have had five.

Morata opened his account for the afternoon in the second minute 

Stoke contributed plenty to their own demise. When they are talked about it is always with the air that a trip to the Potteries carries with it encounters with dragons and trolls. However, when Stoke defend as abysmally as they did here, they are an all-inclusive holiday with transfers from the airport.

With Kurt Zouma ineligible to play against his parent club and Ryan Shawcross injured, Stoke had a threadbare look about them and were punished accordingly.

Pedro added Chelsea's second goal 

For Chelsea it was a match played largely in the angular shadow of Atletico Madrid’s new stadium, the Metropolitano, where they will play in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill all began on the bench, although all came on – Cahill because Marcos Alonso was in real danger of getting himself sent off.

All the pre-match debate as to whether these had been sensible risks was washed away in the first 80 seconds. It was time enough for Tiemoue Bakayoko to bring the ball out of defence and for Azpilicueta to launch it long. Like Conte, Hughes had employed three centre-halves but only one, Bruno Martins Indi, was a specialist in the position. The Dutchman failed entirely to read the danger as Morata glided through and brought the ball under control with his first touch and slipped it past Jack Butland with his second.

Morata helped himself to a second 

Having been beaten at Newcastle and in midweek by Bristol City in the League Cup, Stoke needed to haul their way back into this match. They did so in terms of possession but much of their play ran down the right, where Mame Diouf’s crosses were frequently not equal to the task. When the roles were reversed and Joe Allen put the ball into the area, Diouf answered with an overhead kick that scudded wide. For all Stoke’s possession and their considerable firepower, that was as close as they were to come from open play in the first half.

By then, they were already two down. Again, Stoke had committed a basic defensive error, again another of Chelsea’s Spanish forwards had found themselves clear on goal and again they had not missed.

The error came from Darren Fletcher, perhaps the most reliable player in Hughes’s line-up, who in trying to chest down Erik Pieters’s wayward header simply played it into the path of Pedro Rodriguez. His shot blazed past Butland. A one-time Real Madrid player had scored the first, a former Barcelona forward has struck the second and now thoughts could start to drift towards Atletico.

The Spaniard made it three shortly after

Hughes responded by bringing off Jese for Peter Crouch. You could be snobbish and say this was new Stoke going back to old Stoke but the fact remained that they looked far more dangerous when pumping up the ball to the big man.

There was nothing anyone could do about Morata’s second that began with a run just inside the Stoke half. Fletcher was in weary pursuit for much of it but the finish, from a tight angle, was utterly exquisite. There were 3,000 supporters from Chelsea and, on the basis of that goal alone, most of them would have wanted their daughter to marry the boy from Madrid.

Teams

Stoke City (5-3-2): Butland; Diouf, Martins Indi (Affelay 77), Pieters; Fletcher, Allen; Ramadan, Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting, Jese (Crouch 61). Substitutes: Grant (g), Berahino, Tymon, Adam, Souttar.

Chelsea: (3-4-3) Courtois; Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Alonso (Cahill 59), Bakayoko, Kante, Moses; Pedro (Fabregas 68), Morata, Willian (Hazard 72). Substitutes: Caballero (g), Musonda, Zappacosta, Batshuayi.

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 29,661

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