Chelsea hit Wolves for six
Chelsea 6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0: A mid-week League Cup tie against Championship opposition is not the kind of match that demands John Terry play, but then this game signified a lot more for the Chelsea captain than a routine win in the least important competition of the season.
By playing last night, Terry was signalling to the Football Association, the four men of the independent commission hearing his case for alleged racial abuse and the wider football world that, whatever the pressure, he is unbowed. To paraphrase the song the Chelsea fans sing about him: that John Terry, he does what he wants.
Certainly, being in the midst of one of the most high-profile FA disciplinary hearings in recent history was not about to affect his decision about whether he should play. It probably made him more determined to do so. His supporters will point to the fact that, for now, he remains an innocent man. His detractors will suggest that this is a man who relishes in sticking two fingers up to his critics.
What is not in doubt for Terry is that, at Stamford Bridge, he is the recipient of unconditional love. They applaud the announcement of his name. They sing about him when he runs out on the pitch. Last night the home fans chanted, "There's only one England captain" – and this to a man who had retired from international football 48 hours earlier.
The decision to play Terry was made yesterday afternoon, first team assistant coach Eddie Newton said, but by whom he did not say. This game could be the last Terry plays in a long time, although do not bet against him appealing a guilty verdict.
Stale Solbakken, the Wolves manager, indicated how little interest he had in the League Cup by picking a team that had 10 changes from the side that beat Peterborough on Saturday. It is depressing when a manager cannot even be bothered to put up a fight in a cup game in September, eight months from the end of the season, but this is modern football.
Solbakken said: "We had thought about this before we did it, and it was always a risk that something like this [scale of defeat] could happen. But we were punished really hard in the beginning with a soft set-piece goal, then came another. That made it hard for the young boys out there.
"But there's no one else to blame but me. It was a calculated risk because we'd had three games in six days and have that again [coming up]. I'd have done the same again."
Roberto Di Matteo gave debuts to Lucas Piazon, the 18-year-old signed from Sao Paulo two years ago, and the right-back Cesar Azpilicueta bought from Marseilles in August. There was also a first start for Victor Moses. Chelsea scored through Gary Cahill on four minutes and Wolves were never in it.
The first goal came when Cahill jumped strongly at the back post to meet a cross from Juan Mata and the tone was set. The second came three minutes later when Oriol Romeu's shot was pushed away by goalkeeper Dorus De Vries, Piazon cut the ball back and Ryan Bertrand scored.
Wolves were three behind within 16 minutes with a move started by Mata and then finished by the Spain international.
There were three goals after the break and, to his relief, the second of those was scored by Fernando Torres. First however, the striker, who had not previously scored for a month, deferred to Romeu on penalty-taking duties when referee Neil Swarbrick gave a soft decision for a collision between De Vries and Moses. In the absence of the injured Lampard, Romeu scored.
Torres scored the fifth with a header from Mata's corner from the right side. Moses headed the sixth from a cross from substitute Oscar.
For sheer lack of any imagination, Wolves got exactly what they deserved. This is their fifth game in a run of six in 17 days but they were woeful. Cup runs require a leap of faith from a manager and Solbakken picked a team to lose. Last night was not even a contest. For Terry, however, the significance of the evening was a lot more profound.
Man of the match Mata.
Match rating 6/10.
Referee N Swarbrick (Lancashire).