Chelsea steamrolled Nottingham Forest 5-1 in the third round of the Carabao Cup as Eden Hazard shone on his first start of the season.
Hazard had previously made only substitute appearances this season after breaking his ankle over the summer but looked in rude health on Wednesday night as goals from Kenedy, Charly Musonda and a hat-trick from Michy Batshuayi sent Chelsea through at Stamford Bridge.
Antonio Conte has yet to win a domestic cup competition as a manager and used this game to give his fringe players a run out, including youngsters Musonda and 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu, who came on with 30 minutes to go.
On the 13th anniversary of Forest legend Brian Clough’s passing, the Sky Bet Championship side were blown away by the Premier League champions, although they did fire a late consolation through Tendayi Darikwa and hit the crossbar at 2-0 through Kieran Dowell.
Forest pressed Chelsea high up the pitch in the early stages – but that left them exposed in defence and Chelsea didn’t take long to grab the advantage.
Antonio Rudiger strode out from the back with the ball and curled over a wonderful cross which was finished first time at the back post from Kenedy.
Hazard’s first main contribution came four minutes later as he picked out a pass for Batshuayi to chase and finish past a helpless Stephen Henderson.
On-loan Everton man Dowell crashed a free-kick against the crossbar on 26 minutes before Musonda capped his debut with a goal. The 20-year-old got free on the right and fired a powerful effort through the grasp of Henderson.
Chelsea maintained their dominance after the break with Hazard popping up all over the pitch to cause chaos.
Hazard struck the post soon after the restart having made space for himself on the left side of the area.
He then latched onto a splendid pass from Cesc Fabregas and was unselfish to lay on a tap-in for Batshuayi. Chelsea scored a fifth when Kenedy’s shot from a tight angle bounced back off the bar and in off Batshuayi’s lap for his third.
Chelsea decided not to rush the Belgian maestro back to fitness and it looks to have reaped the desired reward. Hazard looked razor sharp in his first start of the campaign, laying on two goals for Batshuayi and crashing a stupendous effort off the post. It would be a surprise not to see him start at Stoke.