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Chelsea legend Drogba still the top man

MAIN MAN: Didier Drogba (right) celebrates with his Chelsea team mates

CHELSEA STROLLED to a record 6-0 thrashing over NK Maribor, and at times produced perhaps the most emphatic display of Champions League football seen at Stamford Bridge. First half goals from Loic Remy, Didier Drogba from the penalty spot and John Terry, saw the Blues into a comfortable 3-0 lead at the break.

A Mitja Viler own goal and two from a superb Eden Hazard, including another from the penalty spot ensured that Jose Mourinho's side continued their unbeaten run in all competitions. The Slovenian Champions passed the ball with some neat touches, and technically looked good. However, their front two of Tavares and Agim Ibraimi never offered much of a threat to Petr Cech, with Ibraimi missing from the penalty spot in the second half.

Having netted the opener, Remy suffered what appeared to be a groin injury and had to be replaced by Drogba. Mourinho later revealed that he had thought about playing Drogba for perhaps the final 30 minutes of the match and not the 75 minutes he had against Maribor.

Having been awarded their first penalty for handball, it was refreshing to see Cesc Fabregas give the ball to Drogba, and especially given that the Ivorian's place in Blues' history is forever enshrined with that penalty kick against Bayern Munich two years ago.

Mourinho said,
" I was not expecting him to play 75 minutes. We spoke yesterday about him playing 30. Circumstances meant he had to come on and the game went in a direction where he could manage the intensity and manage his movements. It was very important for Didier because the best thing for a player to improve his condition is to play.

"Strikers like to score goals, he wasn’t on the pitch for long in previous matches, he only started against Schalke. His last goal for Chelsea was the most important in the history of this club, so to be back at Stamford Bridge and score again was very good for him."

Comfortable in attack and reassured at the back, Mourinho gave Kurt Zouma a start alongside Terry. Much is expected from the talented France born 19 year old, who impressed with a goal on his first team debut in last month's 2-1 Capital Cup win over Bolton. Signed for £12.5 million from St. Etienne, Mourinho compared Zouma to one of his former charges.

" It’s always better to play them when the situation is good. Kurt Zouma is ready to play any match but because I want to give stability to the team. I’ve played Terry and Cahill since the first game. The same thing has happened to him that happened to Raphael Varane, I gave him his debut in the Champions League ( for Real Madrid ) at the same age. Zouma is a player we trust a lot."

" We are playing well, we are confident, we are solid and we’ve found a good balance. We now have players who have adapted to play the game we were preparing last year, but we couldn’t manage to do it in a perfect way.

" Good results and confidence bring the best out of people. They are enjoying themselves. Tonight a good example: with it being 3-0 at half-time there are many occasions when you stop and control the game, you are happy with the points. But, they kept playing their game and trying to score, they are in a good moment."

With Diego Costa sidelined with his troublesome hamstrings, Mourinho only has Drogba as the experienced fully fit striker. We did catch a glimpse on one Dominic Ayodele Solanke, the 17 year old with Nigerian heritage has been prolific at youth level and won the U17 European Championship with England. Nathan Ake also looked good after his second half introduction. Both youngsters impressed Mourinho.

"Nathan Ake is at another level, he’s almost there, and Solanke is at a level where we know he has the talent but he’s far away. For him it was a perfect situation; the legs were tired even before he came on, the heartbeat was there before the first run but it’s a night he will never forget. For sure, he’s going to play many Champions League matches because he will be a good player.’

On a night when Chelsea sent out a strong message to the big European sides, Mourinho was careful that matters didn't get ahead of themselves.

" We are in a group phase, we’ve played three matches, to be in the final you have to play 12, it’s a long way off and premature to talk about it. We haven’t even qualified for the next phase. Our first objective is to qualify, our second objective is to finish top of the group. We’ll go step by step."

That European step will be in a fortnight in the return leg against Maribor in Slovenia. The next next step for Mourinho's Blues will come Sunday's test at Old Trafford, where Louis Van Gaal's Manchester United will be waiting.

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