Joe Cole was back –and back to his best – as Chelsea moved back to the top of the Premier League by destoying a weakened Blackburn Rovers side.
Cole made his first league start since January and showed no adverse effects from the knee injury that had kept him out of action for so long.
The England midfielder was full of inventiveness, always looking to play in team-mates with his trademark tricks and flicks, and fitted smoothly into a well-oiled Chelsea machine that got back to winning ways in the league after their defeat at Aston Villa last week.
Gaël Givet opened the scoring with an own goal in the 19th minute when he beat Didier Drogba to Nicolas Anelka’s low cross from the left and turned the ball past Paul Robinson.
The Blackburn keeper performed heroics, however to keep the score down to 1-0 at half-time, saving at the feet of Anelka, tipping away a John Terry volley and then pushing away a dipping shot from Drogba.
But Robinson could not perform like King Canute and hold back the Blues tide forever, and had little chance with any of the goals that put Chelsea 4-0 ahead within the hour.
Frank Lampard drove the ball home from 12 yards twice in the space of 11 minutes, first after Drogba’s low cross was only partially cleared in the 47th minute, and then from the penalty spot after the Ivory Coast striker was tripped by Ryan Nelson.
In between Lampard’s goals, Michael Essien thundered the ball past Robinson from 35 yards with a sweriving shot to make it 3-0, and then Drogba added a fifth in the 63rd minute when he headed in Michael Ballack’s corner at the near post.
It was exhibition stuff from Chelsea as they cruised to their biggest victory since they beat Sunderland 5-0 almost a year ago, and when Cole departed in the 77th minute, he got a standing ovation from Chelsea’s supporters and a hug from his manager Carlo Ancelotti.