Abuja – Chelsea enjoyed a triumphant return to the UEFA Champions League after a year out on Tuesday, thumping the competition’s debutants Qarabag 6-0, including a stunning, if miscued, strike from new signing Davide Zappacosta.
The Azeri champions were never any match for their English counterparts and it took only five minutes for Pedro to open the scoring with a curling shot from the edge of the area.
Deadline-day signing Zappacosta, apparently looking to cross the ball, produced a swirling screamer of a goal from some 35 metres out on the half hour.
Chelsea ran riot in the second half, with goals from defender Cesar Azpilicueta, new French signing Tiemoue Bakayoko and two from Michy Batshuayi rounding off an impressive display against the Group C underdogs.
In other UEFA Champions League matches also played on Tuesday, Romelu Lukaku opened his Champions League account as Manchester United marked their return to the competition with a 3-0 rout of Basle in their opening Group A match at Old Trafford.
A mesmeric Lionel Messi scored twice and inspired Barcelona to a 3-0 win over Juventus as the Catalans got off to a flying start in Champions League Group D.
It was a sweet revenge for Barcelona following their last season’s quarterfinal elimination by the Italian champions.
Also, Paris Saint Germain flexed their attacking muscles with a 5-0 victory at Celtic in their opening Champions League Group B game on Tuesday as the world’s most expensive frontline produced a potent display of force.
Neymar, making his first European appearance for PSG after his world-record move from Barcelona,scored first in the 19th minute. He was joined on the scoresheet by Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, the other two members of PSG’s expensive forward trio.