Schalke entered Tuesday's UEFA Champions League fixtures on top of their group, with an opportunity to take a stranglehold on first place at home. Unfortunately for them, Chelsea were at their best in the opening minutes, then throughout the second half. Schalke were unable to take advantage of their chances during the period of the first half where their visitors were shaky, with Chelsea clinching a comfortable 3-0 win.
Chelsea started the match with Andre Schürrle and Eden Hazard on the opposite sides they usually play, with Schürrle on the left and Hazard on the right. They also defended deeper than usual, on the same level as the central midfielders, while Oscar moved up alongside Fernando Torres when the Blues didn't have the ball.
The visitors looked solid in their new setup early and took advantage of a corner in the fifth minute. Fernando Torres, who has made a habit out of looking much better in Europe than he does domestically since he joined Chelsea, scored at the back post with an assist from Branislav Ivanovic. The Chelsea right back got on the end of a near-post ball and flicked backwards to Torres, who had lost his marker and had no problem finishing.
Though Schalke failed to find an equalizer in the first half, they did look like the more dangerous side after the goal. Left back Dennis Aogo had his team's best chance from open play in the 18th minute, forcing a save from Petr Cech on a marauding run forward into the penalty area. In the 39th minute, Kevin-Prince Boateng won a header on a corner and directed a powerful shot on target, but it was right in the center of the goal and Cech was able to tip it over the crossbar.
Torres continued his solid play after the goal and continued to be one of Chelsea's most effective attackers in the second half. He hit the crossbar off a free kick in the 50th minute and would find a second a bit less than 20 minutes after that. Chelsea's second goal of the evening came off a bad giveaway from Max Meyer, which Eden Hazard won. He played the ball to Oscar, who beat Jermaine Jones for pace before laying off to Torres, who finished the counter.
While Torres didn't complete a hat trick, he did have a huge part in the late goal that helped Chelsea seal the result. It was scored in similar fashion to the second, with a bad midfield giveaway by Schalke sparking a counter. Hazard took the ball all the way by himself this time around, with the defense eying Torres the whole way, assuming a pass was coming. He made a cutting run across the box that drew the defense away from Hazard, allowing him to net the Blues' third in the 87th minute.
Schalke: Hildebrand, Aogo, Höwedes, Matip, Uchida, Neustädter, Jones (Kolasinac 70'), Meyer (Gortetzka 78'), Draxler, Clemens, Boateng (Szalai 70')
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Ivanovic, Ramires, Lampard, Schürrle (Mikel 72'), Oscar (Luiz 83'), Hazard (Eto'o 88'), Torres
Goals: Torres (5', 68'), Hazard (87')