Jose Mourinho heaps praise on Chelsea after crushing Schalke 5-0 in Gelsenkirchen
Jose Mourinho heaped praise on his "impressive" Chelsea team for crushing Schalke 5-0 in Gelsenkirchen to cruise into the knockout stages of the Champions League.
An early goal from John Terry put Schalke - now managed by former Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo - firmly on the back foot and Willian promptly doubled up before Jan Kirchhoff scored an own goal to give Chelsea a 3-0 lead heading into the break.
Mourinho's men were rampant in the second half, too, with Didier Drogba's 50th Champions League goal arriving two minutes before Ramires wrapped up the scoring.
Chelsea have won Group G before meeting Sporting Lisbon in the sixth match and will face a second-placed team from another pool in the last 16, a situation which brought a smile to the face of their Portuguese manager.
Mourinho told Sky Sports 5: "They played a fantastic match.
"At this moment the team is very mature, it's very confident and obviously to win 5-0 away in the Champions League is not normal.
"Five-nil in Germany is even less normal but the performance was very impressive.
"We are defending well because we are defending with 11 players and we were attacking well because we are very confident in ourselves and we use lots of players in the attacking process.
"At this moment we are a good team. Obviously we can lose and a bad result is waiting for us but the team is playing really well and we have big self-belief."
Mourinho has previously dismissed Chelsea's run to the Europa League trophy under Rafael Benitez in 2013 and reiterated his belief that the Londoners belong at the top table.
"You can imagine that this team would go into the Europa League and win but that is not what we want," he added.
"We want to compete in the best competition against the best teams as that's very important for the evolution of the team and the prestige of our club.
"We did it (qualified) and we did it one game in advance. I think it's also important for us - in December, such a difficult month - to have one match against Sporting where we don't need the points to qualify or to finish first."
Schalke 0 - 5 Chelsea match report
By Mark Bryans in Gelsenkirchen
Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs said earlier this week that Mourinho's side are "head and shoulders" above everyone else in the Premier League, and it shows on the continent too.
Uncertainty remains over the immediate futures of Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal in Europe's elite club competition, but this win means the Blues are already assured of their place in the knockout rounds.
Chelsea stormed into a lead as Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann did well to turn a Diego Costa effort behind for a corner in the opening minute, only to see Terry head home Cesc Fabregas' set-piece.
The hosts were hemmed inside their own half for much of the opening exchanges and, when they did finally mount something of an attack, Kevin-Prince Boateng was robbed by Willian and only a smart challenge from Felipe Santana denied Costa a clear run on Fahrmann's goal.
Schalke faired much better on their next foray forward and Eric Choupo-Moting was unlucky not to level as his shot hit Gary Cahill, looped over Thibaut Courtois and came back off the crossbar.
A lull in play allowed Chelsea's fans to burst back into 'One Di Matteo' chants and this time the Italian gave them a wave of appreciation as his side continued to grow into the contest.
But they were two down before the game was 30 minutes old as Willian exchanged passes with Eden Hazard before firing a low shot which Fahrmann failed to keep out as the ball squirmed underneath him.
Schalke's fans soon turned on their side as they were caught dawdling on the ball and Costa intercepted an under-hit back pass but was unable to keep his balance as he tried to round Fahrmann and was eventually crowded out.
Chelsea continued their domination as Fabregas' cute ball over the defence allowed Oscar to volley at goal, with the busy Fahrmann able to push the ball behind.
But once again the respite was short-lived as Fabregas delivered another corner into the danger area and Kirchhoff mistimed his headed clearance under no pressure from a Chelsea shirt and it flashed into his own net to put the visitors well and truly in command.
The second half started in much the same vein as Costa robbed Santana of possession, only for the Brazilian defender to atone for his error by getting back to poke the ball away as the in-form Chelsea man looked to strike.
Di Matteo altered both his system and his personnel at the break and, although Schalke were able to keep better hold of the ball, it was Chelsea who were still carving out the better chances.
Branislav Ivanovic fired a well-struck volley wide having been found free inside the box by a clever Willian pass before Costa, still without a European goal for Chelsea, fluffed his lines when played in by Oscar.
That was the last piece of action for Costa as he was replaced by Drogba, the man who scored the decisive penalty in the final against Bayern Munich, shortly afterwards.
The experienced forward netted his first chance of the evening as both he and Willian beat the offside trap and the Brazilian unselfishly squared for Drogba to tap home.
Fellow substitute Ramires headed home just 73 seconds later as Drogba turned provider and Chelsea moved further ahead.
Chelsea decided enough was enough at five and saw out the remainder of the contest to leave Mourinho no doubt happy with progression and, in all likelihood, inwardly delighted at putting one over on Di Matteo.
Belfast Telegraph Digital