LONDON - Rafael Benitez took a big step in his efforts to win over doubting Chelsea fans by overseeing a stunning 8-0 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday that moved the Spaniard's side back up to third spot.
Fernando Torres kick-started the win with his seventh goal in six appearances, while Frank Lampard marked his 500th Premier League start with a goal that made him the club's leading scorer in the top flight.
Ramires scored twice, with David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic, Eden Hazard and Oscar also on target in a victory that emphatically drew a line under the club's recent slump.
There was much for Benitez to be pleased about, particularly the continuing good form of Torres.
But for Aston Villa, this result — their heaviest top-flight defeat — will come as a crushing blow after the improvement they have shown in recent weeks.
One of the first questions asked of Benitez when he took charge at Stamford Bridge was whether he could revive Torres.
The interim manager insisted he could and the striker's recent strike rate suggests Benitez has been good to his word as the sharpness of Torres's third-minute header demonstrated.
Picked out by Cesar Azpilicueta's cross from deep, the Spain international connected with a powerful header, twisting his body to direct the ball beyond Brad Guzan from 16 yards out.
It was the perfect start for the Blues, who came into the game on the back of an impressive 5-1 League Cup quarter-final victory at Leeds United.
The win equalled Chelsea's 8-0 rout of Wigan Athletic in May 2010.
Manchester United hold the Premier League record for the biggest winning margin, having beaten Ipswich Town 9-0 in March 1995.