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Mighty Duck at last: Pato debuts, scores as Chelsea leaves lifeless Aston Villa on cusp

Alexandre Pato is a lame duck no more.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

What can one really say about today's match? Really?

Chelsea frolicked in the Midlands on Saturday lunchtime, a 4-0 result hardly telling the story as Aston Villa continued its descent into absurdity. It made for grim viewing at times, for all involved.

Nevertheless, a clean sheet, haul of goals and trident of Chelsea debuts, among them a long-anticipated Duck sighting, is nothing to quack at, is it? Quack.

Yes, this match will be remembered - if it is indeed remembered at all - for the debut of Alexandre Pato. The Brazilian, introduced midway through the first half following an injury to Loïc Rémy, played a role in Chelsea's opening goal, scored by the impressive Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and converted a penalty just before the break. He remained bright throughout, integral in both of Pedro's second-half tallies as Chelsea rollicked.

The Duck's migration into English football had been prior to Saturday somewhat of a joke. Sixty-four days passed between his arrival and Chelsea bow, and much of the talk around the former Milan striker's loan move to London from Corinthians in January was of agents and favors rather than talent and ability. Here, he needed just 22 minutes to break his Chelsea duck and now, the talk will likely be around whether Pato will receive a run of starts under interim manager Guus Hiddink and, should he continue to impress, whether a permanent deal will be arranged.

Just three minutes after replacing Rémy, Duckie was freeing up space for Ruben Loftus-Cheek to score his first Premier League goal. It was a lovely move featuring some lovely footwork from John Obi-Mikel to shake two Villa players just inside midfield. César Azpilicueta provided the decisive cross from the right and though Loftus-Cheek's shot took a slight deflection off Joleon Lescott, it was yet another sign - physical, assertive, lethal - that the 20-year-old is eyeing a more prominent role in the side.

McDuck then, in first-half stoppage time, worked himself the wrong side of Aly Cissokho to win, and then convert, a penalty. Pato's first goal in English football was clinical and left Villa, and their jaded supporters, even further in the mire. A second-half brace from Pedro, the second part of which the result of a parried strike from our favorite Duck, found home supporters staging a protest that wasn't quite a protest. Poor Villa, they cannot even protest properly.

Pedro's first came just 51 seconds into the second half, forged through brilliant combination play between Oscar, on at halftime for Kenedy, and Duckman. His second, 14 minutes later, saw Brad Guzan fail to properly parry Pato's decent, but hardly extraordinary, curling effort toward the far post. Pedro duly mopped up, his sixth league goal of the term.

Villa were, well, embarrassing. This was a seventh successive defeat for the hosts, a genuinely laughable one at that. No doubt consigned to relegation, the Premier League's doormat spent much of the final 45 minutes wandering aimlessly about the pitch and, fittingly, finished with 10 men after Alan Hutton's ridiculous second bookable offense.

It was, in a sense, the perfect environment for Chelsea. Hiddink included the aforementioned Loftus-Cheek and Kenedy in his starting lineup, but also provided a debut for American defender Matt Miazga. Partnering Branislav Ivanovic, Miazga, the first American to play for the Blues, was assured and relatively solid for most of the day. Of course, much, much sterner tests lie ahead, but this was an ideal introduction for the 20-year-old.

The introductions didn't stop there. Jake Clarke-Salter, the 18-year-old, long-serving Chelsea youth player, received 20 minutes at left back. His performance, like that of most of our players on Saturday, was a mighty fun watch.

Chelsea are now just three points adrift of seventh-place Southampton, which plays Leicester City on Sunday. Liverpool are, of course, on the same number of points (44) and have two games in hand, but who cares about Liverpool? Meanwhile, the long unbeaten run endures. That's 15 matches without defeat, the longest such streak in the league this season. The Europa League lives on - thanks, Duck.

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