LONDON: Fernando Torres scored his first Chelsea hat-trick as the Blues thrashed Queens Park Rangers 6-1 to strengthen their bid for automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Torres scored twice in a first half that saw Chelsea 4-0 up in the 25th minute at Stamford Bridge, with Daniel Sturridge taking just 46 seconds to open the scoring and Chelsea captain John Terry on target as well.
Spain striker Torres completed his treble in the 64th minute.
Florent Malouda made it 6-0 in the 80th minute, before Djibril Cisse scored for QPR six minutes from time at Stamford Bridge.
Only the top four clubs at the end of the Premier League season are due to qualify for next term’s Champions League, although that number will be reduced to three if Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in this season’s final.
Defeat left QPR above the relegation zone on goal difference alone, with two games of the season left.
Torres ecstatic, praises team after superb show
Torres, who has struggled for much of his 15 months at Chelsea since his British record £50 million move from Liverpool, said, “I’m very happy. I knew if I worked hard the goals would come. It’s the same for the team, we are playing more as a team now.
“Reaching the Champions League final was important, but we also want to finish in the top four and we showed we were focused today from the first minute after Daniel Sturridge’s goal.”
For Chelsea, who overcame the handicap of having Terry sent off to record a remarkable 2-2 draw away to champions Barcelona on Tuesday that saw them into the Champions League final, this win over their west London rivals capped a memorable week.
It also set them up in style for Wednesday’s match against Newcastle, which precedes Chelsea’s crucial FA Cup final clash against Liverpool at Wembley next weekend.
Yesterday’s game took place without the usual pre-match handshake ceremony after concerns it could affect Terry’s July 9 court case over allegations he racially abused Ferdinand during QPR’s victory over Chelsea in October.
The Chelsea defender, who lost the England captaincy over the issue, has strongly denied wrongdoing.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.