It took Ruben Loftus-Cheek eight minutes to equal his goal output for his Chelsea career. It took him 53 minutes to surpass it.
The England international stepped up to deliver a hat-trick in the Blues’ 3-1 Europa League victory with Belorussian side BATE on Thursday, and in the process more than doubled his goal output for the club.
Loftus-Cheek has long struggled to find a place with Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and now Maurizio Sarri despite tantalising potential.
Coming into the season, the midfielder had played in just 22 Premier League games with the Blues and started only six of them. In total, he had just two goals for Chelsea in his time there.
A move to Crystal Palace last season proved massive for Loftus-Cheek’s career, at least internationally, as his performance with the Londoners proved enough to earn him a spot on England’s World Cup roster.
But despite his success for Palace and the Three Lions, Sarri had not shown much love for Loftus-Cheek, the midfielder having seen just 33 minutes in the league this season and been relegated to Carabao Cup and Europa League duty.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek fires Chelsea in front after just two minutes!— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 25, 2018
Another young England star making an impact in Europe 🏴 pic.twitter.com/0ioqPkemmx
However, after his performance against BATE, the Italian manager might be rethinking his role.
It took only a couple of minutes for Loftus-Cheek to score his first of the game, and season, when he latched onto a low cross by David Zappacosta and slid it into the back of the net.
And while he had managed just two goals in his previous 35 with Chelsea, he matched that total in just eight minutes after managing to get onto a corner and poke it home despite being held by a defender to double Chelsea’s advantage.
Loftus-Cheek’s night would get even better in the second half with his best effort of the evening as the midfielder ripped a low drive from just outside the area which gave him a hat-trick and Chelsea a 3-0 lead.
⚽️⚽️⚽️— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 25, 2018
Ruben Loftus-Cheek starts and finishes the move to complete a memorable hat-trick 👏
It was the first hat-trick for an English player in the Europa League since Harry Kane managed it four years ago against Asteras Tripolis.
It was also the first Chelsea hat-trick in Europe since Didier Drogba in 2006, and the first English Chelsea player to do so for the Blues since Peter Osgood and Tommy Baldwin scored five and three goals respectively in the 1971 Cup Winners Cup.
The three goals on the evening came one short of matching his career output to date, as he had scored twice for Palace in addition to the pair he’d previously scored with the Blues.
Loftus-Cheek will have an opportunity to get his first Premier League start of the season when the Blues face Burnley this weekend.
However, if he doesn’t make the XI for that clash, it seems likely he’ll receive another chance to impress against Derby County in the Carabao Cup midweek.