Diego Costa scored in the first and last minutes to lead Chelsea to a 6-3 win over Everton in a wild shootout Saturday, leaving the title favourites with maximum points from its opening three matches in the Premier League.
Chelsea displayed its new-found attacking sparkle with a ruthless performance at Goodison Park, taking a 2-0 lead after three minutes and then scoring three more times in a chaotic 11-minute spell in the second half.
Costa began the rout with a goal after 34 seconds and Branislav Ivanovic added a second soon two minutes later, only for Kevin Mirallas to reduce the deficit for Everton just before halftime.
Seamus Coleman’s own goal in the 66th minute sparked a rush of five goals in 11 minutes during which both defences were carved open.
Steven Naismith made it 3-2, Nemanja Matic regained Chelsea’s two-goal lead in the 74th but Everton came back again through Samuel Eto’o’s header on his debut, against the club that released him in the summer.
Ramires put Chelsea 5-3 ahead and Costa wrapped up a madcap second half with a low finish after a brilliant back-heel from substitute Didier Drogba, taking the Spain striker’s tally to four goals in three games since his summer move from Atletico Madrid.
“We were killers in attack,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said.
Chelsea captain John Terry reserved special praise for Costa.
“He’s literally got everything,” Terry said. “He’s been brilliant and he’s off to a flying start. ... To come here and get the win, and the manner in which we’ve done it I think was incredible.”
Costa’s clinical finishing provided further evidence that Chelsea once again has a striker that can guide the team to the Premier League title — in just three games, he is two goals off the total scored by Fernando Torres last season.
Torres joined AC Milan on loan after a largely forgettable 3 1/2 years at Stamford Bridge, with Jose Mourinho happy to offload the Spain striker after seeing how easily Costa has settled in.
Costa was a doubt for the match because of a hamstring injury sustained in training this week, but started and was soon running onto Cesc Fabregas’ through-ball inside the first minute to slot a low finish past American goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The centre of Everton’s defence was carved open again barely two minutes later, the recalled Ramires slipping a pass through for Ivanovic to take a touch and shoot into the corner for his second goal of the season.
Already 2-0 down, Everton was lucky not to be a man down, too, as Howard gathered up a long ball through even though replays showed he was a meter outside his area. Eden Hazard was ready to pounce had Howard not collected the ball and looked incredulous when a foul was not awarded.
It proved vital, with Howard producing a brilliant one-handed save to turn aside Costa’s curling shot in the 52nd minute and then saving low down from the Brazil-born striker moments later.
By then, Everton had reduced the deficit, scoring in the 45th minute for the third time this season when Mirallas thumped in a header from Coleman’s cross.
Howard could do nothing about Chelsea’s third sparked by Hazard, who sped around Coleman and sent in a low cross that deflected off the right back and span behind the goalkeeper into the net off the far post.
But Howard stayed in the spotlight by grabbing the shirt of Costa, who had celebrated the goal provocatively in Coleman’s face. It earned Howard a yellow card and worse was to follow for the U.S. World Cup star in the final 24 minutes.