Chelsea eventually prevailed 6-3 against Everton at Goodison Park in what was without doubt the game of the Premier League season so far.
The home fans were in shock after only three minutes in Saturday’s evening kick-off after seeing their side concede twice in quick succession almost immediately.
Cesc Fabregas was given acres of space in midfield after only 35 seconds and used the space devastatingly to play Diego Costa in behind the Everton back line for the first goal.
Roberto Martinez’s men were clearly in shock, but Jose Mourinho’s side went for the jugular and Branislav Ivanovic smashed home from close range only a minute or two later, though he was probably onside.
Kevin Mirallas headed the Toffees to within one goal just before half time, something they did twice again through Steven Naismith and former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o, after a Seamus Coleman own goal and Ramires had restored the two-goal deficit.
A horrible error by Everton substitute Muhamed Besic handed Diego Costa his second and Chelsea’s sixth with only five minutes remaining and kill the match.
Mourinho will probably not have enjoyed the topsy-turvy match too much, such is the Portuguese manager’s love of solid defensive displays, but he will be happy with the way that his side reacted to having their lead cut so many times at a ground where the crowd are famously raucous.
Here’s how GiveMeSport rated the Chelsea players…
Thibaut Courtois: 7
Despite conceding three goals, the Belgium international did not have a great deal to do. He was confident on crosses throughout and made one terrific save from Mirallas in the second half, though the chance was created because of a terrible throw out by him.
Branislav Ivanovic: 6
It wasn’t a particularly impressive defensive display by Chelsea, but Ivanovic took his goal well and combined brilliantly with Willian in the first half to keep the Toffees strong left-hand side quiet.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 5
Didn’t get a goal to boost his score and was left exposed a few times by Hazard failing to cover sufficiently. Failed to get forward much and didn’t entirely convince defensively, he will want to forget about this game quickly.
John Terry: 5
Usually so reliable, especially in the air, but was poor in getting beaten to a cross by Mirallas for Everton’s first goal. The home side’s third goal was from a poorly defended set-piece as well and Terry will not be happy with that at all.
Gary Cahill: 5
Similar to Terry in that he was poor on set-pieces. Though he did not get beaten to a header crucially, allowed Naismith to get inside him for Everton’s second goal.
Nemanja Matic: 7
Struggled to contain Naismith’s movement for much of the match and the movement inside from Mirallas also caused him problems. Was typically tough in the tackles and simple in possession, but looked uncharacteristically ruffled at times. Scored a well-taken goal to make it 4-2.
Cesc Fabregas: 7
Controlled the game early on and set up the first goal with a beautiful pass, but faded as the match went on. Was, eventually, well-marshalled by McCarthy and Barry in the second half, but fought well to keep the midfield in touch with his forwards.
Was mostly quiet in the first half, where his task looked as if it was mainly to contain Everton’s left hand side, but grew into the game as it went on. Typically hard-working, he covered acres of ground throughout and finished nicely late on for Chelsea’s fifth to put the games to rest.
He may not be the most flamboyant Brazilian around but the former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder is so reliable and works his socks off. Willian never stopped running, seemingly able to sprint for most of the match and was given a well-deserved rest on 75 minutes. This guy thrives on transitions.
Eden Hazard: 7
For a player who quite obviously doesn’t enjoy defending too much, Hazard did a decent amount of work to help out Azpilicueta at Goodison Park, though he is never going to be perfect. He was lively as usual and provided a good outlet, but did so without dominating the match as he should. Was behind Chelsea’s third goal with a good run and low cross that was turned in by Seamus Coleman.
Diego Costa: 9 – Man of the Match
Mourinho has found the ideal front man in Costa. The former Atletico Madrid striker works so hard for his teammates, always making intelligent runs in behind the opposition defence. He is also as strong as an Ox and able to hold off the most trying challenges, while also having the technical ability to play in teammates. He is a devastating finisher too, taking both his goals well and was a constant danger.
John Obi Mikel: 6
Replaced Willian on 75’ to help shore up the space in front of the defence. First involvement was to give away the free-kick that led to Everton’s third, but did his job competently after that and his side were able to hold out.
Filipe Luis: 6
Came on for Hazard to bolster the left-hand side on 83 minutes. Had little to do and kept things solid as the game petered out.
Didier Drogba: N/A
The Chelsea legend replaced Fabregas with a minute to go and was tasked to hold up the ball. Hardly had a touch, but gave viewers a taste of his experience when he expertly drew a time-consuming free-kick in the dying stages.