Chelsea 6 Wolves 0
John Terry found the perfect sanctuary at Stamford Bridge tonight as Chelsea romped into the fourth round of the Capital One Cup by blitzing Wolves.
Having spent the morning at Wembley – a place he used to call home – defending himself against a Football Association racism charge, Terry enjoyed some respite in a stadium where he will always be welcome.
The Chelsea captain was a virtual spectator as he was treated to his side’s biggest win for almost 21 months thanks to goals from Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand, Juan Mata, Oriol Romeu, Fernando Torres and Victor Moses.
It was just the pick-me-up Terry would have wanted ahead of day three of his personal hearing into allegations he used a racist slur against Anton Ferdinand - something he has been denying ever since their altercation almost a year ago.
Terry’s desire to play tonight – he trained on Sunday and after day one his hearing yesterday – was typical of the defender, whose career has been one of defiance in the face of adversity.
It was also possible the 31-year-old recognised this evening’s game might be his last before a four-match ban if found guilty of the charge against him.
That verdict could also have cost him his England career had he not dramatically taken the decision out of the FA’s hands on Sunday night.
The FA had already stripped him of the England captaincy, but not as far as the Chelsea fans were concerned as they predictably chanted: “There’s only one England captain.”
Terry acknowledged the support, which continued as his every touch was cheered in a game that also saw warm receptions for debutants Cesar Azpilicueta and Lucas Piazon as Chelsea rang the changes for a competition not exactly top of their agenda.
Wolves’ decision to rest 10 players made it crystal clear where their priorities lay and it looked like they could not wait to get back up the M40.
Ronald Zubar set the tone, tripping Moses for a right-wing free-kick Mata crossed to the far post, Cahill doing his hopes of succeeding Terry in the England defence no harm by stooping to head home in his best impression of his skipper.
Chelsea’s fringe men and youngsters, who looked really lively, then combined for the second goal in the seventh minute.
Romeu’s shot was saved by Dorus De Vries but Lucas Piazon kept the ball in and turned it back for an unmarked Bertrand to blast home.
The third goal was an exhibition from the established stars in the team, Mata starting and finishing a flowing move, exchanging passes with both Ramires and Torres before finishing expertly.
It was so easy, it looked like even Torres himself would have no problem getting in on the act but he hesitated badly when clean through.
It was not all plain sailing for Terry either.
His lack of pace was twice exposed, firstly when David Davis’ strike was tipped over the bar and secondly when Slawomir Peszko easily surged clear of him and Cahill, rounded Ross Turnbull but shot into the side-netting.
Wolves spared Stephen Hunt the relentless jeers he had endured in the first half – Chelsea fans unlikely to forget his involvement in Petr Cech’s infamous skull fracture – when he was replaced by Anthony Forde during the break.
But the home side struck quickly again when Moses drew De Vries into bringing him down and they were finally awarded a penalty after several recent snubs.
Romeu made no mistake from the spot for his first Chelsea goal.
Peszko fluffed another finish from 12 yards not long after the restart and Torres’ travails continued when his latest shot was deflected behind.
But they finally ended when he powered home a 58th-minute header from Mata’s resultant corner.
That was the cue for a raft of changes, with new arrival Oscar crossing for Moses to power home on his first Chelsea goal on what was his full debut with 19 minutes remaining.
Fellow substitute – and debutant – Marko Marin then put the ball on a plate for Torres, who showed not even a goal was enough to restore his shattered confidence as he shot too close to De Vries.
More changes followed but Terry was allowed to see out the win.