LONDON — Chelsea produced its most ruthless attacking display in more than two years on Sunday to crush Aston Villa with a record-equaling 8-0 Premier League victory for the club.
The European champions ripped Villa apart with ease after Fernando Torres headed in the opener after just three minutes, with seven different goal scorers against the relegation-threatened visitors.
A first league win at Stamford Bridge since early October lifted Chelsea up to third place, seven points behind second-place Manchester City but with a game in hand.
"We showed great appetite for the game from the first minute," said Frank Lampard, who also scored. "(With) our desire to be quick with the ball, the early goal helped. We are enjoying playing again and we needed that attitude to get us out of the sticky patch we were in."
But it is the margin of the one-sided rout that will be most pleasing for Rafa Benitez, who now has two league wins in the five games since being hired to replace the fired Roberto Di Matteo despite the hostility of Chelsea fans.
"To win is special, but the main thing for me is to see the team progressing, improving," said Benitez, who was appointed until the end of the season.
After Torres’ opener, David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic also scored before half time, while Lampard, Ramires (twice), Oscar and Eden Hazard inflicted more damage with goals after the break to leave Villa just three points and two places above the relegation zone.
Not since May 2010, when Wigan was also crushed 8-0, has Chelsea looked so convincing in the league. But Chelsea appears resurgent under Benitez, also putting five past Leeds in the League Cup earlier this week and six against Nordsjaelland in the Champions League earlier in the month.
Having scored just seven goals in the opening four months of the season, Torres has now scored seven in the last six games in all competitions.
The Spain striker maintained his rich vein of form when he soared unmarked to meet Cesar Azpilicueta’s precise cross from the right flank and sent goalkeeper Brad Guzan to pick the ball out of his net for the first time.
"He is a striker and he needed to score goals … he has more confidence," Benitez said.
An energetic home display ensured a quiet day for goalkeeper Petr Cech, with the the return of the flair that defined Chelsea in the opening weeks of the season when the team topped the standings.
Guzan, though, was coming under sustained pressure and was beaten again on the half-hour when Luiz curled a free kick into the top corner.
Ivanovic headed past the American in the 34th after he initially parried a shot from former Villa defender Gary Cahill.
The pressure was relentless from the hosts, although Guzan managed to turn over Juan Mata’s powerful, deflected shot five minutes into the second half.
A low save also thwarted Lampard’s long-range strike through a crowded penalty area, while Torres had a second goal ruled out for offside.
But Lampard marked his 500th league start with a 130th topflight goal for Chelsea, overtaking the club record set by Bobby Tambling between 1959 and 1970.
After being teed up by Mata, the 34-year-old England international brought the ball down with his chest and sliced it into the net.
With Lampard’s contract expiring at the end of the season, the fans responded with chants of "Sign him up" and showed their appreciation with cheers when he was substituted.
"I’m under contract here. I’m going to keep going game by game," he said. "I love playing here. I’m pleased to be fit and I will keep trying to enjoy my football. I believe I have a lot in me to go.
"I don’t want to get too deep. The club’s position is their position. I’m here to play football to show people what I can do."
A hapless Villa side did come close to pulling one back, but Cech diverted Matt Lowton’s shot off the crossbar.
But Lucas Piazon, who replaced Mata to make his Premier League debut, made a fine start when he sent an inch-perfect pass to Ramires, who slotted the ball through Guzan’s legs in the 75th.
Oscar hit Chelsea’s sixth from the penalty spot four minutes later after being tripped over by Chris Herd.
Even the six unanswered goals didn’t reflect Chelsea’s complete supremacy, and Hazard produced another goal in the 83rd.
Another penalty was awarded in the 89th when Piazon was brought down, but his resulting penalty kick was turned over by Guzan.
Ramires did find the net, though, again in stoppage time after Oscar squared the ball to the Brazilian.
"I’m not going to sit here and make excuses," Villa manager Paul Lambert said. "We were well beaten … they’re a really young side. Sometimes getting beat tells you a lot."