The Bundesliga outfit may have been unbeaten at home in all competitions heading into this game, however, they found themselves trailing after only two minutes when Chelsea captain John Terry rose powerfully to head home Cesc Fabregas’s left-wing corner.
And if that early strike appeared to knock the stuffing out of the Germans, then Willian’s low shot after a brilliant passing move that doubled the visitors’ advantage just before the half-hour mark left them stunned.
All of which may explain Jan Kirchhoff’s bizarre own goal on the stroke of half-time that ended the game as a contest, with the holding midfielder somehow managing to perfectly head another left-wing Fabregas corner past a flat-footed Ralf Fahrmann in the Schalke goal.
Meanwhile, all the Germans had to show for their first-half exertions was a Eric Choupo-Moting shot from outside the area that was deflected on to the crossbar by Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill.
However, if Schalke thought that their opponents were going to take their foot off the gas in the second half, then they were much mistaken, with the Blues adding two more high-class goals to record their joint-biggest away win in Europe, and this despite in-form striker Diego Costa being removed from the fray after 66 minutes.
It was the Spain international’s replacement, Didier Drogba, who made it 4-0 to the visitors just 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute. Yet another inch-perfect Fabregas through-ball released Willian, before the playmaker laid a goal on a plate for the veteran frontman.
And then it was the turn of another substitute, Ramires, to add the final gloss to proceedings by adding a fifth goal with his very first touch after a delicious left-wing cross by Drogba sailed perfectly on to the Brazil midfielder’s head.
Five goals, three points and top spot in Group G then on what was a thoroughly impressive night for Chelsea, with head coach Jose Mourinho pronouncing him entirely satisfied with his side’s dominat display after the match.
MICHAEL BALLACK’S VERDICT
Chelsea were fantastic. It looked like a training match but the goal on two minutes was crucial. Schalke didn’t have an answer, no desire, no power, no challenge. Chelsea played just fantastic football.
Willian, Hazard, Costa and Fabregas – who was the best player in midfield today. Everything looked really, really competitive and they deserved their first place.