LONDON - Chelsea got their Champions League campaign back on track in emphatic style on Wednesday when they brushed aside AC Milan with a dominant 3-0 home win thanks to goals from Wesley Fofana, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reece James.
Chelsea lost 1-0 to Dynamo Zagreb and drew 1-1 at home with Salzburg in their opening two Group E games but are now right back in the mix on four points, one behind Salzburg, who beat Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 earlier on Wednesday. Milan, who host the Londoners next week, also have four, with Zagreb on three.
The Italian seven-times champions will have to find a lot more in the San Siro than they showed in London if they are to have a good chance of advancing to the knockout stage for the first time since 2014.
Chelsea, by contrast, will travel full of confidence after rediscovering their swagger following their insipid opening games and though they still look a long way from the side who lifted the Cup in 2021 they were solid throughout and finished clinically.
They took a while to settle on Wednesday but gradually began to exert control as Mason Mount had a shot pushed wide and Thiago Silva went close with two headers from corners.
Inexplicably, the Brazilian was left unmarked for a third and though his powerful header was beaten out by stand-in keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, after an ensuing scramble Fofana calmly tucked the ball into an inviting gap to make it 1-0 in the 24th minute.
Milan were muscular in their running but lacked guile and precision and failed to create a worthwhile chance until first-half stoppage time when Rade Krunic blazed over --– put off by a great last-ditch lunge by Ben Chilwell - after Kepa Arrizabalaga had saved from Charles de Ketelaere following a driving run by Rafael Leao.
It proved their high-water point of the night as in the 56th minute former Chelsea centre back Fikayo Tomori failed to cut out a near-post James cross and Aubameyang had a simple task to guide it home.
Five minutes later it was all over when James was again left unmarked on the right to run on to a Raheem Sterling pass and lashed an unstoppable third goal into the roof of the net.
An insipid Milan failed to show any sort of response, barely putting the home defence under pressure, let alone threatening a goal, as Chelsea strolled through the final half-hour.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Clare Fallon)