This was supposed to be a day of celebration for Wolves, as they marked the 130th anniversary of their first match here. Instead, a new Chelsea goalscoring hero stole the show, as Tammy Abraham struck his first hat-trick for the club after Fikayo Tomori started the rout by opening his own account with a wonderful strike from long-range. Late goals for Romain Saïss and Patrick Cutrone gave the hosts a little cheer and took away some of Chelsea’s satisfaction. Mason Mount restored some it by scoring Chelsea’s fifth in stoppage time.
Dear old Molineux had been a fortress for Wolves for most of this year, with the home side unbeaten in any competition here since January, but by half-time that was all irrelevant history. They were 3-0 down and in danger of an even worse mauling.
For Frank Lampard, the first half was a delight, with his team showing defensive improvement before conceding a flurry of goals. Both managers had taken steps to repair leaky defences for this game but only one oversaw progress.
Lampard, whose side conceded nine goals in their first four league matches, made changes intended to address his team’s weaknesses and reflect the home team’s strengths, as Chelsea mirrored their hosts’ back- three formation. Kurt Zouma was demoted to the bench as Tomori and Andreas Christensen formed the rearguard with Antonio Rüdiger, making his first appearance of the season after a knee injury.
The result was a solid Chelsea team and then, just after the half-hour, came an extraordinary bonus, as Timori stepped out of defence to curl a superb shot into the top corner from over 25 yards. The ball had broken to him after Diego Jota poked it off the foot of Mount near the right wing and Nuno Espírito Santo berated his players for giving Timori so much time to measure up a beautiful shot.
Worse followed for Wolves as three minutes later Timori strode forward again and pinged a low pass to Mount in the box. When Mount went down under a challenge, the referee waved play on and Jesus Vallejo inadvertently helped the ball on to Abraham, who finished smartly from eight yards.
That two-goal salvo had not been clearly coming, as for the first half-hour this had been a tight affair characterised by a midfield logjam and imprecise passes.
Willian was the first to find an opening in the home defence but blasted over the bar from the edge of the area, while Wolves’ main threat came from Adama Traoré, the speedster who spread panic down Chelsea’s left nearly every time he got the ball. Raul Jimenez headed wide from one of his crosses. Later, Traoré dashed in-field and flicked a lovely pass through to Jota, who was closed down by Andreas Christenson before he could shoot.
Wolves continued to show an uncharacteristic raggedness that made one wonder whether their Europa League exertions are already starting to take a toll. Whatever the cause, Abraham was not minded to pardon their slackness. When Marcos Alonso chipped a cross in from the left, Abraham outjumped Conor Coady and headed past a motionless Rui Patricio. On the sideline Nuno was hopping mad.
Zouma was introduced for the second half in place of Rüdiger, who appeared to be struggling towards the end of the first period in what was the only negative note for Lampard. Nuno had a whole lot to ponder. He was given even more unpalatable food for thought in the 54th minute, when Abraham ran on to a cute pass by Jorginho and rammed the ball into the net. The finish and the way the striker held off Wolves’ last defender showed true quality did nothing to advance the Coady for England campaign.
Wolves restored a smidgin of pride when Romain Saïss rose to meet a corner by João Moutinho. Kepa Arrizabalaga made a feeble attempt to keep out his header, succeeding only in pushing it into the net via the foot of the helpless Abraham.
The goalkeeper was fallible again in the 85th minute when he failed to swat away a shot by Matt Doherty, allowing Cutrone to nudge the ball in from close range of his first goal for Wolves.
Chelsea had the last laugh when Mount collected a super pass by Michy Batshuayi and finished nicely.