Injury crisis? What injury crisis? Despite having seven first team players out, Chelsea tore Middlesbrough apart this afternoon by five goals to nil to stay top of the Premier League and boost their goal difference in the process.

Middlesbrough were poor, but the Blues also played some lovely football, and but for some wasteful finishing in front of goal, those inside the Riverside Stadium could have gone home on the end of an even bigger score line.

After a tentative opening, Salomon Kalou got the ball rolling for Chelsea, finishing well after the ball had broken to him from Juliano Beletti’s deflected shot.

It was the perfect start for the league leaders, and Frank Lampard almost made it even better, but his shot was well defended by Jonathan Grounds.

Chelsea continued to play the ball around well for the remainder of the first half, but were wasteful on a number of occasions. Malouda was a particularly guilty culprit, and at 1-0 you always felt that Middlesbrough were still in the game.

Malouda continued his profligate streak in the second half when he shot into the side-netting after being put through by a combination of Carlo Cudicini’s long throw and some uncertain defending from Grounds.

Any worries of a potential revival from the home side were blown away by a quite brilliant strike from Juliano Beletti in the 50th minute. The defender cum midfielder picked the ball up from 30 yards out and then sent an ferocious shot swerving into the top corner to send the ranked Chelsea masses behind Ross Turnbull’s goal into raptures.

The travelling faithful were on their feet once more a couple of minutes later as Salomon Kalou added his second and Chelsea’s third via the aid of a deflection off David Wheater.

By this stage those Chelsea fans who had made the long journey up North were enjoying themselves. ‘Are you Tottenham in disguise?’ they enquired of their opponents. ‘You might as well go home’ they advised.

Beletti then skied an effort over the bar from a Salomon Kalou pass and Frank Lampard hit a shot straight at Ross Turnbull.

The midfielder - who was making his 380th appearance for the club, equalling the number made by Peter Osgood - got his goal in the 63rd minute. Kalou dinked an inch perfect cross into the box and Lampard was on hand to nod it into the net.

By this stage, Middlesbrough players and fans alike must have been begging for the final whistle to go, but Florent Malouda added insult to injury and left Ross Turnbull particularly embarrassed.

Nicolas Anelka cut in from the right and sent a shot towards goal that Turnbull failed to hold. The ball bounced up onto the post and Malouda managed to nip in ahead of the dithering keeper and knock the ball in for goal number five.

Anelka thought he had made it 6-0 soon afterwards, but he was offside when he tapped the ball in from Malouda’s left wing cross.

With the outcome of the game beyond doubt, Scolari brought Deco on to ease him back into action and also gave Scott Sinclair a chance to impress.

Eager to complete his hat-trick, Kalou cut inside and sent a shot over the bar when maybe he could have passed to a team mate. However, at 5-0 you can hardly blame him for going for glory.

That was to be Chelsea’s last attempt on goal as Boro tried to salvage some semblance of respect from a harrowing afternoon by grabbing a consolation goal.

The only consolation for them can be that they’re unlikely to be on the end of such a beating again this season.

Sumptuous Blues Batter Beleaguered Boro