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CHELSEA VS BATE Borisov: Loftus-Cheek 1st Hat-Trick Helps Blues Coast To Europa League win

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CHELSEA VS BATE Borisov: Loftus-Cheek Net 1st Hat-Trick Helps Blues Coast To Europa League win

Loftus-Cheek’s first hat-trick at senior level was an assortment of gifts, and Chelsea’s first in Europe for 12 years, but outclassed Borisov simply couldn’t crack the enigma code.

 

Hat-trick hero Ruben Loftus-Cheek was Chelsea’s star turn, but he remains a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

The boy who can get a game for England more readily than his club scored more goals in 53 minutes than he had managed in his 35 previous appearances for the Blues put together.

Loftus-Cheek had managed only 99 minutes of first-team action for Chelsea before this rout, but he was much too good for Thursday night fodder at Stamford Bridge.

But the only people who think he will be in the starting line-up at Burnley on Sunday probably believe in the tooth fairy.

Loftus-Cheek’s first hat-trick at senior level was an assortment of gifts, and Chelsea’s first in Europe for 12 years, but outclassed Borisov simply couldn’t crack the enigma code.

He could have scored five on his own, and it was undeniably an eye-catching display, but head coach Maurizio Sarri still has doubts about Loftus-Cheek’s tactical acumen.

For 45 minutes, during every break in play, Sarri gave his midfield prodigy brief tutorials – but he cannot fail to have been impressed.

And at least shamed Chelsea coach Marco Ianni, whose classless goading of Jose Mourinho led to the late introduction of Queensberry Rules in the dramatic finale against Manchester United last weekend, was on his best behaviour.

Ianni was on bibs and cones duty during pre-match warm-up, and when his most provocative act was to high-five mascot Stamford the Lion before kick-off, it was an accurate measure of Chelsea’s comfortable night.

Despite Sarri’s eight changes from the WBC title fight with Mourinho, they surged ahead after just 103 seconds.

Davide Zappacosta’s low cross from the right flank reached the unmarked Loftus-Cheek, lurking by the penalty spot, and the England star lashed his shot first-time into the corner.

It was only Loftus-Cheek’s third goal for Chelsea – the previous one came in a 4-0 walkover at doomed Aston Villa in April 2016 – but six minutes later he was on target again.

Despite being held captive by Borisov marker Dmitri Baga’s unromantic embrace, Loftus-Cheek managed to apply the decisive touch from Willian’s corner.

He should have completed a first-half hat-trick, but he headed wide from another Zappacosta cross when a bit more TLC with the finish would have earned RLC the match ball.

As it happened, he only had to wait until eight minutes into the second period to complete his treble.

Pedro’s mazy run was blocked on the edge of the box, but Loftus-Cheek smuggled his tame effort from 20 yards past Borisov keeper Denis Scherbitski’s arthritic dive.

The only way Borisov were going to score was if Chelsea allowed boredom at such a one-sided contest to take root – and sure enough, 11 minutes from time, complacency held sway, Aleksei Rios stealing in at the far post to grab an unlikely consolation.

As everyone knows, the acronym BATE stands for Borisov Automobile and Tractor Electronics, and there was enough excitement among Fulham Broadway’s agricultural attaches that the Tractor Boys of Belarus were in town.

But, frankly, you wouldn’t put this lot in charge of a combine harvester in a ploughed field.

Former Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb, now 37 and in his fifth spell with the club, was the pick of a poor crop until he was wiped out by Mateo Kovacic’s poor challenge.

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