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Samuel Eto'o scored his first Barclays Premier League goal as Chelsea came from behind to defeat Cardiff City 4-1 at Stamford Bridge.
The 32-year-old striker – who joined Chelsea on a free transfer from Anji Makhachkala in August – had failed to score in his four previous top-flight appearances but picked an ideal time to break his duck on Saturday.
Jordon Mutch had made the most of a defensive lapse by David Luiz to put Cardiff in front after 10 minutes before Eden Hazard levelled in unusual circumstances.
Eto'o put Chelsea in front in the 66th minute and his strike eased the tension, with Oscar and Hazard putting gloss on the win – that lifted them to second on the Premier League table – with late goals to the delight of manager Jose Mourinho, who was sent to the stands for dissent.
Chelsea made four changes from the side that beat Norwich City 3-1 earlier this month, with Willian given his first start for the club, while Ryan Bertrand replaced the injured Ashley Cole at left-back.
Mutch was one of Cardiff's two inclusions and he made an immediate impact, firing Malky Mackay's side in front in the 10th minute after he pounced on a defensive error from Luiz. The Brazilian left an errant Ramires ball alone, allowing Mutch to steal in and dink over the onrushing Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, on the Czech Republic international’s 300th Barclays Premier League appearance.
The hosts responded quickly as John Terry twice went close, but they were given another scare when Peter Odemwingie's flicked header forced Cech into an outstanding save.
The home crowd were growing restless before Hazard scored a bizarre goal to level proceedings. Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall was caught napping while bouncing the ball in preparation for a goal-kick, and Eto'o nipped in to knock the ball towards Hazard.
The Belgian returned the ball to Eto'o but as a desperate Cardiff scrambled, the Cameroon international was unable to get his shot away; Hazard, however, made no mistake.
The hosts grew in confidence thereafter with Luiz, Hazard and Frank Lampard all sending in efforts at the end of the first period.
Cardiff started the second half well, they failed to create clear-cut chances, and only excellent defending from Andrew Taylor denied Hazard at the other end.
Chelsea did take the lead in the 66th minute, though, when Hazard fed Eto'o, who produced a superb finish. The striker showed quick feet to beat Steven Caulker before firing past Marshall at the near post.
Fernando Torres had a good effort blocked as Chelsea searched for a third but they were kept on their toes at the other end, with Cech forced into a good save to deny Kim.
Oscar did give his side a two-goal cushion with 12 minutes to play, thrashing an effort past Marshall from 20 yards that cannoned in off the underside of the post, before Hazard added a fourth from a tight angle.
Chelsea assistant first-team coach Steve Holland: “It was a good response from the players to come back from that. When you're playing opposition who play, as they're quite entitled to, with so many players behind the ball and make it difficult for you, if you give them that break it gives them belief and creates anxiety in your own performance, so it wasn't a good start for us, but the players responded very well.
"'It was uncharacteristic for us, our defensive record is very good but it was a misunderstanding at the back between the defensive players and the goalkeeper. The defenders thought the 'keeper had it, the 'keeper thought the defenders had it. It's not something that's occurred often and hopefully it doesn't happen too often in the future.'
"It's always difficult when you change clubs, but to change countries and leagues as well increases that. He [Eto'o] has scored goals at the top level throughout Europe all through his career, but I'm sure he'll still be feeling happier to have that first one under his belt and be off the mark."
Cardiff manager Malky Mackay: "I was very proud of the players today. I thought we played really well, the way we set up and the way we played for most of that against one of the top teams in the league and one of the teams who are going to be challenging for the title.
"We had a couple of breaks ourselves and a fantastic free-kick which Peter Odemwingie has touched on and [Petr] Cech has pulled it out of the top corner to go 2-0. At that point, little things change games massively, especially against a top team like Chelsea.
"At 2-1 we had to go to try to press and get back into the game. I felt at 1-1 we were excellent value for the way we were playing.
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|08 Feb 2014||v Newcastle (H)|