Nicolas Anelka, Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba all found the net as Chelsea comfortably beat neighbours Fulham ahead of their crucial Champions League semi final second leg against Barcelona.

Three goals were scored in a frantic opening 10 minutes as Guus Hiddink ditched his preferred 4-3-3 formation for a 4-4-2 with Drogba and Anelka paired together up front.

The first came after just 51 seconds. Malouda played a one-two with Anelka and then sent in a cross that Drogba diverted into the path of the Frenchman, who finished with aplomb.

Three minutes later Fulham were back on level terms. Brazilian defender Alex was caught out by Danny Murphy’s lofted pass and Erik Nevland ran through and hit a shot that Petr Cech managed to get a touch to, but couldn’t stop going into the corner of the net.

But soon enough Chelsea regained the lead, Anelka released Drogba and the Ivorian’s cross was turned in by Malouda.

Not content with just the one goal advantage, Hiddink’s side continued to attack. Drogba had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside and both Frank Lampard and Michael Essien had efforts on goal.

Fulham weren’t totally out of it, with goal scorer Nevland volleying over and Zoltan Gera having a shot deflected over by Blues’ skipper John Terry.

At half time Hiddink brought on Branislav Ivanovic and Michael Ballack for Alex and Michael Essien, clearly with Wednesday’s game in mind.

Seven minutes into the second half Chelsea had the cushion of another goal. Anelka threaded a near-perfect ball through the Fulham defence into the path of Drogba, who took a touch before firing home.

A couple of minutes later he went down injured after a clash with John Pantsil, causing some concern on the Chelsea bench. But after some treatment he was OK to continue.

With the result not in much doubt, how many more goals Chelsea would score seemed to be the only question left to be answered.

Lampard came close to adding a fourth with a free kick, but Mark Schwarzer was equal to it, tipping the ball over the bar.

Anelka again combined with Drogba but he could only fire wide. He was replaced by Franco Di Santo with six minutes remaining, having put in an encouraging display that suggest him and Anelka can work together to devastating effect.

The home side then played out time for three points and a comfortable win that will stand them in good stead for the visit of Barcelona on Wednesday.

Blues cruise ahead of Barcelona