Tammy Abraham once again demonstrated why Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has placed his faith in the 21-year-old with a superb hat-trick in a crushing 5-2 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Wolves were supposed to be celebrating the 130 years in their Molineux home but the celebrations fell flat as Lampard’s young guns swept Nuno Espirito Santo’s side away.
Abraham’s treble was the outstanding contribution as he became the third player aged under 22 to score two goals in three successive Premier League games, matching the achievement of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
But his efforts were well supported by two other graduates from the Chelsea academy, centre-back Fikayo Tomori — who opened the scoring with a stunning 30-yard strike, his first for the club — and midfielder Mason Mount, scorer of the added-time fifth.
Wolves conjured a response in the 69th minute when Romain Saiss header deflected off Abraham into his own net and added an 85th minute second through Patrick Cutrone’s close range finish.
But at that point, Lampard’s side had established a four-goal lead and were providing further vindication for the Chelsea manager’s decision to reverse the trend of the past decade and a half at Stamford Bridge and give the club’s youngsters a chance this season.
A two-window transfer embargo has forced Lampard’s hand to a certain extent but the manager’s strong support for his young players is clearly bearing fruit.
And the former Chelsea midfielder was entitled to draw particular pleasure from the way Tomori, Mount and Abraham – who have each worked their way through the ranks after joining the club at under-eight level – combined for the Blues second goal.
A comprehensive victory that keeps Chelsea level with Tottenham, Manchester United and Leicester in the early battle for a top-four finish could also kickstart the Blues’ campaign.
For Wolves manager Nuno, though, defeat provided cause for concern, particularly ahead of the start of the Europa League group stage.
Wolves came into the game with the unwanted record of being the only Premier League not to have led for a single minute in a game this season.
And that remained the case when Tomori broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion in the 31st minute.
There was an element of luck in the way the ball broke for the 21-year-old after Jonny dispossessed Mount but there was no denying the quality of Tomori’s side-footed effort that curled into the top corner from 30 yards out.
Worse was to come for Nuno’s side three minutes later when Tomori surged forward from halfway, moved the ball on to Mount inside the penalty area and Abraham was on hand to finish when his team-mate went to ground under a challenge from Conor Coady.
Abraham struck again four minutes before the break, heading home from Marcos Alonso’s cross after Jesus Vallejo’s poor clearing header.
And the forward added his third and sent a telling reminder to Gareth Southgate, who left Abraham out of his recent England squad, when he beat Coady and fired past Rui Patricio ten minutes after the restart.
Abraham’s busy afternoon continued when he was given the unwanted credit for Wolves’ first consolation after Saiss headed a Joao Moutinho corner goalwards.
Cutrone then reacted first after Kepa Arrizabalaga parried Matt Doherty’s shot for his first goal in English football, but Mount completed a comfortable win with a composed finish in added time.