London: Fernando Torres scored his first hat-trick in more than 2½ years on Sunday to lead Chelsea to a 6-1 Premier League win over Queens Park Rangers.
In their first match since reaching the Champions League final, the Blues hit four goals in the opening 25 minutes at Stamford Bridge to humiliate their local rivals, keep up with their rivals in the race for fourth spot, and give their fans yet more reason to celebrate.
Daniel Sturridge scored after 49 seconds, John Terry headed in a corner and the rejuvenated Torres scored twice to put the result beyond doubt with more than an hour remaining.
Torres struck again in the 64th for his first hat-trick since September 2009, when he scored three times in Liverpool's 6-1 win over Hull, and substitute Florent Malouda scored in the 80th.
Djibril Cisse got a late goal back for relegation-threatened QPR.
After just eight goals in his first 61 games since joining Chelsea for 50 million Pounds, Torres now has four from his last two matches.
"I was feeling very good, very sharp, playing well, but I couldn't score," Torres said. "Now I feel I'm not playing as well as before, but I am scoring goals, which is the important thing for the strikers."
With Chelsea fans looking forward to next month's Champions League final and FA Cup final, the opening half-hour was played in a party atmosphere despite heavy rain that meant water splashed with players' every footstep and the ball barely travelled when passed along the ground.
"Given the week Chelsea have had, the club is on a high," QPR manager Mark Hughes said. "The consequence of the early goal was that we were trying to chase the game and that allowed Chelsea to pick us off."
The first goal came following some weak defending from QPR but owed more to Sturridge's quick reactions and eye for an opening. The striker's initial effort from the left corner of the area came back to him off Anton Ferdinand's shins, but Rangers' defence gave him time to adjust his angle by taking the ball a couple of steps across goal. Sturridge then threaded a swerving shot through three defenders and past goalkeeper Paddy Kenny at the near post.
Terry had a volley saved by Kenny, who also tipped Frank Lampard's chip from the edge of the area over the bar. But the goalkeeper could do little when Terry beat Clint Hill to the resulting corner and headed in for 2-0.
Chelsea were untroubled by the conditions and Torres made it 3-0 with a goal similar to the one that earned a 2-2 draw at Barcelona in midweek. The Spain striker knocked the ball around the goalkeeper with one touch and rolled it into an unguarded net with his next, and then made it 4-0 after Kenny had dropped a header back to him from teammate Nedum Onuoha.
Emboldened by their early success, the Blues temporarily abandoned their patient build-up play and began taking shots from almost any position — giving QPR temporary respite.
Torres almost got his hat-trick in the last minute of the first half but hit a difficult effort high past the top-right corner.
He eventually got his third goal almost 20 minutes into the second half, collecting a straight pass from Juan Mata and rolling a shot with his right boot across Kenny and in at the far post.
In what quickly turned into an exercise of damage limitation, Ramires forced Kenny into a smart stop at his near post, with both managers paying close attention to the potentially decisive goal-difference charts, and the impact that they could have on the race for fourth and the battle to beat the drop.
Malouda stretched the advantage still further in the 79th minute, tapping home from just outside the six-yard box unmarked, before Cisse's late consolation.
Roberto Di Matteo pressed home his credentials for the manager's job full-time in the summer even further with his 11th win in 16 games, with club owner Roman Abramovich seen clapping from the stands.
Despite having so much to cheer, a large number of Chelsea fans chose to jeer and taunt Ferdinand throughout for his accusation earlier this season that Terry racially abused him.
Terry lost the England captaincy and faces a criminal trial after the European Championships in the summer.
The furore meant that the traditional pre-match handshake between the sides was abandoned on Sunday to avoid the players coming into contact outside of the game.
Defeat further damaged QPR's chances of avoiding relegation, although they are still just above the bottom three on goal difference.
"We've damaged our own goal difference today," Hughes said. "At half-time we talked about that. Maybe the damage isn't critical."