Olivier Giroud was once again Chelsea's hero on the road in the Champions League as he scored all four goals as the Blues made light work of Spanish side Sevilla.
Going into the game, it was billed as the decider for who would get that all important top spot in the group, which gives teams the advantage of not facing over group winners, and also being given a home tie in the second leg.
With considerably better goal difference and a better record over the two games against Sevilla, Chelsea will finish at the top of Group E with one game to spare- at home to Krasnodar next Tuesday.
Story of the Match
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard made nine changes from Sunday's 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, as Edouard Mendy and Mateo Kovacic were the only players to keep their place in a much different looking Chelsea side. Cesar Azpilicueta wore the captain's armband on his return to the starting XI, and there were also first starts for Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic since returning from their respective recent absences.
As for Sevilla, Julien Lopetegui also made several changes, six in total from their 1-0 victory against Huesca on Saturday. There was a place back in the team for Ivan Rakitic, who is a previous winner of the Champions League with Barcelona, as well as a first appearance in the competition for 20 year old goalkeeper Alfonso Pastor, who replaced Tomas Vaclik in goal.
It was somewhat of a baptism of fire for Pastor, as he made his first save just 30 seconds into the game, keeping out Kai Havertz's goal-bound cross. And it was not long before Chelsea got another chance, with Cesar Azpilicueta setting up Christian Pulisic, who dragged his shot wide.
However, a few minutes later, Chelsea did get their goal, as a mazy run from Havertz set up Olivier Giroud, who placed his left footed shot beyond Pastor to give Chelsea the lead.
After that point, Sevilla looked more threatening, but Chelsea were arguably closest to scoring the next goal in the game, as Antonio Rudiger saw his header remarkably cleared off the line by Franco Vazquez.
Following half time with the score at 0-1, Sevilla came close soon after the restart of the second half, as Nemanja Gudelj's powerful effort just went too high of Edouard Mendy's top left hand corner. Sevilla's failure to put away their chances were punished by Chelsea, as Mateo Kovacic set up Giroud to score his second of the game with a delicate right footed chip with 54 minutes on the clock.
Chelsea then had a great opportunity to finish the game off, as substitute Mason Mount was played in by Jorginho, but his tame finish was kept out with a low save by Pastor. Chelsea then did put the game out of sight on 74 minutes, as N'Golo Kante's cross was headed home by Giroud to complete his perfect hat-trick.
With eight minutes to play, Chelsea were given the opportunity to add to their lead after Sergi Gomez fouled Giroud in the box, for which Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Not content with just the hat-trick, Giroud stepped up and comfortably slotted it in the top right corner, capping off a perfect performance from the France international.
The victory for Chelsea means that they will top Group E, and it will give them great confidence going into a difficult fixture on Saturday in the Premier League against Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United, a game that will see the return to some fans at Stamford Bridge.
Giroud has to start against Leeds
With Chelsea's attack as strong as it is at the moment in terms of depth, players have to be at their very best to demand a place in the side. After the draw against Tottenham Hotspur, it was clear that the striker place was up for grabs, as Tammy Abraham failed to impress, missing key opportunities and looking uncomfortable in possession. Olivier Giroud had a point to prove tonight after being left out of the starting XI, and he did not half deliver. His performance had everything: strength, power, composure, brilliant positioning and exceptional finishing. He did everything he could, and more, to show why he deserves to be in the team every week, and right now he is looking undroppable.
Sevilla may struggle in Champions League challenge
After dominating the Europa League for the past decade, Sevilla's push for finding their place in Europe's elite competition has been quite successful so far, easily qualifying for the last 16 after just four group games. However, their performance tonight showed they might find the competition quite difficult to progress much further in. Of course it needs to be considered that it was a much changed line up to their normal XI, but Chelsea made even more changes and blew them out the water. Now with a second place finish and the possibility of facing some tough teams in the next round, you fear for them.
Chelsea's depth prove their importance
Reliant on a lot of the club's squad depth tonight, Chelsea's very strong performance from everyone in the team will please Frank Lampard going into the tough run of fixtures his side are facing in December. With a fully fit squad at the moment, everyone that played tonight has shown their capability to perform if needed in the coming weeks, something that Chelsea have to take advantage of considering the injury crisis facing other clubs in the hunt for the title.