An astonishing four goals from Olivier Giroud secured Chelsea a famous away European win and, with it, top spot in our Champions League group.
Giroud is the first Blues player to score four goals in a game for us since his manager Frank Lampard did so against Aston Villa in March 2010, and the first ever Chelsea player to achieve that feat in a Champions League game.
Could Giroud’s four-goal haul have been any better? It’s hard to know. The first three comprised the most perfect of perfect hat-tricks, two wonderful finishes on either foot and a trademark Giroud header to seal his treble.
His goal tally for the day was made even more complete - if that is possible! - by an emphatic penalty late on after he had been bundled over in the box attacking a cross.
It all means we have secured first place in Champions League Group E with a game to spare, just reward for a vintage Chelsea display that married tenacity in defence when required with slick passing and Giroud’s magic touch up front. Sevilla's 14-game unbeaten run at home in Europe is over, while we have won four Champions League games in a row for the first time since 2012. What a night!
It was a much-changed Chelsea side that took to the field on a mild evening in Andalusia, as Lampard made use of the depth and good health of his squad. They have posed him plenty of questions!
Of the nine new faces, Emerson was making his second start of the season, and Andreas Christensen his first appearance since mid-October. Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz were fit to start, and Lampard could also welcome Billy Gilmour back into his matchday squad. He made a late sub appearance for his Champions League debut.
Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma didn’t travel to Spain.
Sevilla made eight changes of their own, with one enforced shortly before kick-off. Twenty-year-old goalkeeper Alfonso Pastor came in for his senior debut at the expense of the injured Tomas Vaclik.
Off to a flier
Inside 30 seconds Pastor was called into action, punching away a Havertz cross as Chelsea settled quickly.
A first clear opening arrived with five minutes played. Cesar Azpilicueta threaded a pass through to Pulisic, who had found a yard of space in a congested penalty area. He turned and fired a whisker wide.
We didn’t have to wait much longer to prise the Sevilla defence open, and this time there was no such profligacy in front of goal. Patient passing created space for Havertz to drive forward from midfield. With options left and right, he opted to pick out Giroud, who slipped inside his man and curled a pinpoint finish into the far corner.
It had been an assured start from the Blues but we needed the bravery and reflexes of Edouard Mendy to keep us ahead shortly before the 20-minute mark. The Senegalese dived at the feet of Diego Carlos to block his effort as the ball ran loose from a free-kick, with the follow-up attempt from Carlos thudding into Toni Rudiger, who matched his keeper’s commitment.
Pulisic in the thick of things
With so much pace in our team, we continued to look a major threat on the counter-attack. Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho teamed up to steal possession and release Pulisic, whose low strike was kept out by the feet of Pastor. From Emerson’s resulting corner, Rudiger’s goalbound header was cleared off the line.
Pulisic shot over from further out, and at the other end there was a VAR check for a possible handball he committed. Replays showed the ball had bounced into his stomach.
The closing stages of the first half were scrappy, with a flurry of bookings handed out by the Portuguese ref, including to our own Kovacic and Pulisic. The last of 17 shots before the break came from the left foot of Ivan Rakitic, blasted high and wide.
It was a similar story for Nemanja Gudelj when play restarted, although his effort did temporarily worry Mendy before flying over.
Olivier at it again
Callum Hudson-Odoi saw plenty of the ball down our right and a couple of his inviting deliveries went unmet, but in the 54th minute we conjured up a magnificent second goal.
After some spellbinding interchanges outside the Sevilla box, Jorginho spun 360 degrees and moved the ball on to Kovacic, who in turn caressed a pass through to Giroud. He made light work of the ball coming onto his weaker right side, sitting Sergi Gomez down before carefully lifting it over the keeper. The execution was simpler perfect.
There was no doubt the Blues were enjoying themselves out there. Lampard brought three fresh faces into the action, and one of them, Mason Mount, almost instantly got in on the action. Jorginho’s first-time pass found the midfielder who teed himself up for a volley that Pastor superbly saved low to his left.
The other two subs then combined to set up Giroud’s hat-trick goal. Mendy’s long ball was nonchalantly flicked on by Hakim Ziyech to N’Golo Kante, who marauded down the right before curling in a cross that was meat and drink for Giroud, a textbook near-post header flying past Pastor.
When Giroud was then pushed over inside the box, he assumed penalty responsibilities himself and placed his effort into the top right-hand corner with the minimum of fuss.
The applause that echoed around the mostly empty Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan when he was subbed off a minute later felt louder than usual in this behind-closed-doors era. It probably was. Rarely can a Chelsea striker have delivered a performance of that all-round quality.
We can now look forward to a last-16 tie with the first leg away from home in February.
Handed his second start of the season, Giroud underlined his continued importance to this Chelsea squad with four superb goals and a textbook centre-forward display. Sevilla mostly played a high line and that allowed the speedy Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic and Havertz to feed off Giroud’s measured flicks and burst into space, but when they retreated deeper, he exploited areas between their backline to take his chances.
The Frenchman has now played at least some part in each of our past seven games. This performance ensures he will only feature more often as we approach the hectic festive schedule.
Leeds United at the Bridge on Saturday, with 2,000 Blues supporters in the stadium. Let's hope for a repeat performance! Our Champions League group stage campaign concludes the following Tuesday at home to Krasnodar.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger, Emerson; Havertz (Kante 67), Jorginho (Gilmour 85), Kovacic (Ziyech 67); Hudson-Odoi, Giroud (Werner 84), Pulisic (Mount 67).Unused subs: Kepa, Caballero, Tomori, James, Chilwell, Alonso, Abraham.Scorer Giroud 8, 54, 74, 83 (penalty)Booked Kovacic 37, Pulisic 43, Mount 90+1
Sevilla (4-3-3): Pastor; Jesus Navas (c) (Kounde 60), Sergi Gomez, Diego Carlos, Rekik; Rakitic (Torres 75), Gudelj, Oscar Rodriguez (Jordan 60); Vazquez (Munir 66), En-Nesryi, Idrissi (Ocampos 60).Unused subs Gonzalez, De Jong, Fernando, Zarzana, Vazquez, Romero.Booked Gudelj 15, Idrissi 41, Sergi Gomez 82
Referee Artur Dias.