SIX HITTERS CHELSEA SURPRISE DI MATTEO
Roberto Di Matteo admitted even he was shocked by Chelsea's ruthless dismantling of QPR that catapulted them right back into the frame to qualify for next season's Champions League via their league position.
Just five days after reaching next month's final with a sensational comeback at Barcelona, the Blues produced the polar opposite of a European hangover to crush Rangers 6-1, their biggest ever win in the west London derby.
It moved them to within a point of a top-four spot in the Barclays Premier League ahead of Wednesday's crunch clash with Newcastle.
Chelsea caretaker-manager Di Matteo said: "After a Champions League game in midweek, it always proves difficult in the next game in the Premier League. I'm very pleased with the way we played and the result.
"I have to say that the team surprised me as well. I wasn't expecting but I was hoping - they really put in a great performance."
No-one more so than man of the match Fernando Torres, who bagged the first hat-trick of his turbulent Chelsea career to give Di Matteo a real selection headache for the FA Cup and Champions League finals.
Di Matteo said: "He was always working very hard for the team and putting assists in.
"We are a team and that's what you support, and it doesn't really matter who scores. I'm pleased for him today that he's scored the hat-trick.
"The confidence comes with the wins and, obviously for a striker, maybe a little bit with the goals as well. The whole team looks full of confidence."
Di Matteo was forced to play a makeshift defence due to injuries and suspensions and was coy about whether David Luiz would be fit for Newcastle.
He added: "We had an unusual back four and they did brilliantly to keep QPR at bay. It's great to see this team ethic and this team spirit from all these guys."
Asked if Chelsea had sent a message to their top-four rivals, Di Matteo said: "We just look after ourselves. That's the only thing we can influence. We have to try and win the next game to be able to have a chance of finishing fourth."
John Terry certainly sent a message, scoring the second goal and shrugging off a barrage of abuse over his upcoming racism trial.
Di Matteo said: "He's had many games where he's been challenged before and he showed again his leadership qualities."
Chelsea's fans also targeted QPR defender Anton Ferdinand - who Terry denies racially abusing - but they were full of praise for Di Matteo.
The Italian further strengthened his claim for the job in front of Roman Abramovich in the week Pep Guardiola - reportedly the Russian's number one target - announced he was quitting as Barca boss.
Di Matteo refused to comment when asked if he could be Chelsea's answer to Guardiola, but he did admit he had little say over the club's signing of Werder Bremen playmaker Marko Marin this week.
"I tend to give my recommendation but, ultimately, the club decides who they want to sign," he said.
"He's a very good player, technically very good, skilful. He will add some qualities to this team."
QPR's defeat was Mark Hughes' heaviest as a manager and he accused this side of being "naive" after falling 4-0 behind inside 25 minutes.
"Given the week that Chelsea have had - the whole club's on a high - we had to come and set our stall out and make sure that we were difficult to beat," he said. "What was it, 30, 40 seconds we're behind in the game?
"At that point, the feeling is that it's possibly going to be a difficult day.
"The fact that we kept going, we deserve a bit of credit. But, at times, we were a little bit naive.
"Possibly you have to take your medicine and understand that it's not going to be your day."
Hughes refused to use the handshake saga as an excuse for defeat that saw Rangers' goal difference take a battering in their bid to stay out of the drop zone.
"Hopefully, a number of results will go for us and maybe the damage isn't critical in terms of goal difference," he said, looking ahead to next Sunday's home clash with Stoke.
"We've got a huge game next week, which we need to get maximum points out of and we've got to be more accomplished than we were today at Man City in the last game."
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