After having his opportunities limited this season, Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored a hat-trick to help Chelsea to a 3-1 victory over BATE.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek provided a timely reminder of his quality with a fine hat-trick in just his second start of the season as Chelsea sealed a comprehensive 3-1 win over BATE in the Europa League.
The England international has found playing time hard to come by this term, but grasped a rare chance afforded by head coach Maurizio Sarri as the Blues made it three wins from three in Group L to close on the knockout stages.
Loftus-Cheek had not scored a Chelsea goal since April 2016 before pulling off two expert finishes inside the opening eight minutes at Stamford Bridge as a Chelsea team featuring a number of fringe players overwhelmed an inferior BATE side.
The pick of his goals came in the 53rd minute to put the result beyond doubt and, despite Aleksey Rios scoring a late consolation goal for the visitors, he continued to shine on an evening that will go down as one of his best as a Chelsea player.
Davide Zappacosta sped down the right flank in the second minute and cut the ball back to Loftus-Cheek who provided a clinical finish, steering a first-time shot just to the right of goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski without hesitation.
Loftus-Cheek’s second was all about his positional play, the 22-year-old arriving ahead of Olivier Giroud to apply a side-footed volley to Willian’s corner and again finding the net low to Scherbitski’s right.
A move that started with Loftus Cheek in his own half saw Pedro burst down the left flank and, when he was dispossessed, Chelsea’s home-grown talent was on hand to guide home his hat-trick goal.
Sarri gave 17-year-old winger Callum Hudson-Odoi half an hour as a substitute and he showed glimpses of why he is considered an exciting prospect as the Blues continued to attack.
Though Chelsea switched off for a moment to allow Rios to arrive unmarked and volley Igor Stasevich’s cross into the net from close range, it failed to take the shine off a more than satisfactory night for Sarri’s men.