Eto'o leads Blues to win over Schalke
Samuel Eto'o scored for his fourth different Champions League team as Chelsea beat Schalke 3-0 on Wednesday to close in on the knockout phase.
The Cameroon striker netted a fortuitous opener for the Group E leaders in the 31st minute. Goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand's clearance was intercepted and the ball bounced off Eto'o's shin into the net.
Eto'o had struggled to display his goal-scoring instinct since joining from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala in August, but he took his Chelsea tally to three in the 54th minute. Willian slipped the ball through and Eto'o clipped a shot past Hildebrand.
Before going on to score for Barcelona and Inter Milan in the Champions League, Eto'o first netted in the Europe's elite competition in Sept. 2001 for Mallorca - against Schalke.
After Eto'o made way for Demba Ba, the Senegal striker soon opened his account for the season with an 83rd minute-volley completing a comfortable win for Chelsea.
After missing out on the knockout phase last season, and dropping into the Europa League, there seems little prospect of Chelsea not advancing this year under Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea moved three points clear of Schalke, and four clear of Steaua Bucharest, which drew 1-1 at Basel.
At Stamford Bridge, had Schalke's early attacking threat been as effective as its fans, who were louder than the far bigger home contingent throughout, it might have been a different story.
Julian Draxler, who rejected a summer move to England, was at the heart of the initial danger from Schalke.
The visitors came close to taking the lead twice in the opening minutes, with Draxler curling wide and then breaking forward to set up Adam Szalai, whose final touch in front of goal could not match the build-up play.
Schalke would pay for squandering those openings - Christian Fuchs also struck wide - as Chelsea gradually began to impose itself.
Draxler was booked for dragging Cesar Azpilicueta back, and Andre Schuerrle's free kick was batted away by Hildebrand's two-handed save.
Schuerrle curled another attempt wide before the breakthrough was gifted by a combination of Hildebrand's blunder and the goal-poaching instinct of Eto'o.
Hildebrand, though, had no trouble collecting a more direct, tamer shot from Eto'o before the break.
Schalke was presented with a chance to level at the start of the second half when Jermaine Jones played in Draxler, but after cutting inside the resulting shot was turning wide by Petr Cech.
When the Schalke resistance was broken through again in the 54th, with the second from Eto'o, there seemed little prospect of a comeback.
Schalke lost its most dangerous player in the 61st minute when Draxler appeared to limp straight down the tunnel and Christian Clemens took his place.
It was the Chelsea substitution - Ba for Eto'o - that paid off in the 77th - as the newcomer hooked a shot into the net after Lampard slipped the ball over the defense.
Chelsea defender David Luiz had been spotted yawning on the bench just before the goal - reflecting how routine this win seemed to be.