This was a match lit up by players in Chelsea blue yet by the end José Mourinho's thoughts were mainly occupied by the member of his squad who, after the final whistle, strode through Stamford Bridge's press room in casual dress. Samuel Eto'o was beaming, no doubt delighted by his team-mates' win against Stoke, and there was also a spring in his step, providing Mourinho with hope that the forward will be out of his jeans and back in contention when Paris Saint-Germain arrive on Tuesday.
Eto'o has not featured for Chelsea since injuring a hamstring in their 6-0 victory over Arsenal last month and, as is often the case, his importance to the team has grown with each day he has not been able to actually play for them. Largely this is because the man who has featured instead, Fernando Torres, has been, well – Fernando Torres. In two starts, against Crystal Palace on 29 March and then again on Saturday, the Spaniard performed with a level of impotence that has come to define his time in west London.
In between, Torres was left out of the Chelsea starting lineup that lost 3-1 to PSG in their Champions League quarter-final first leg, with his ineffective arrival as a substitute leading to Mourinho witheringly commenting after the contest about how he lacked "real strikers". In fairness to the Portuguese, he gave Torres another chance to shine but, yet again, the 30-year-old did not seize the opportunity against Stoke City. Little wonder, then, that Mourinho is keen for Eto'o to return for the second leg, with the Cameroonian likely to be given the nod should he get through Monday's pre-match training session.
"If we don't score a minimum of two goals, we are out. We know that," said Mourinho. "If we can have everybody available who can give us a chance to score goals then let's do that. So maybe I will pick him [Eto'o] but to risk a player you need to have minimum conditions. If you think he's going to be out after 10 minutes of the game you can't take that risk. But if there is a minimum of conditions of risk, then, yes, I will pick him."
Mourinho has made little secret of his dissatisfaction with his three principal strikers – Eto'o, Torres and Demba Ba – and, quite simply, the former represents the best of a bad bunch. Since arriving from Anzhi Makhachkala in August, the 33-year-old has scored 11 times in 31 appearances for Chelsea, compared with nine in 34 for Torres and five in 22 for Ba this season. Crucially, as far as PSG are concerned, all of Eto'o's goals have come at Stamford Bridge and the hope for Chelsea is that he will be fit enough to score at least twice more on home soil on Tuesday.
Such expectations certainly cannot be placed on Torres. Without a goal in his last seven games, looks a shell of his former, feared self. There was plenty of industry but very little threat and by the closing stages it appeared as if he was intentionally not shooting in fear of missing. In total, Torres had only three attempts on goal, two of which were off target. He also lost possession on 10 occasions.
With Torres struggling, it was left to those around him to seal the victory. The hosts performed with thrust and purpose from the start and it appeared only a matter of time before they scored. The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute when Mohamed Salah secured his second goal for Chelsea on his first Premier League start before the excellent Willian wrapped up the win with a curled finish 18 minutes from time. In between Frank Lampard converted a penalty to seal his 250th career goal.
All eyes are now on PSG, who strengthened their position at the top of Ligue 1 with a 3-0 win over Reims on Saturday in which the manager, Laurent Blanc, rested a host of first-team players. Lampard, for one, is confident Chelsea can repeat their feat of 2012, when they overcame a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Napoli to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.
"You're looking at a stronger team [than Napoli] but we can certainly win by two goals," said the midfielder. "It's about being focused and getting our attitude and pace in our game right."
For Stoke, the aim remains to achieve a host of club targets, most notably a first Premier League top-half finish. To make certain of that Mark Hughes's side will have to improve on this display, with the visitors organised but utterly blunt in attack, summed up by their best chance when, late on, Marko Arnautovic found space in the Chelsea area but made a hash of controlling Steven Nzonzi's long pass.
"This is a wake-up call for us," said Hughes. "We've got five games left and now need to refocus and understand what's required at this level."
Man of the match Willian (Chelsea)