Samuel Eto'o became the fourth player to score a hat trick against Manchester United in the EPL. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
In previous years, Chelsea-Manchester United games have been among the English Premier League's most glamorous fixtures. Usually one if not both teams was challenging for the championship, and some of the game's premier players littered both squads.
But in a lean year for Manchester United, things have gotten slightly less competetive.
Samuel Eto'o proved as much on Sunday, taking advantage of huge gaps in the United defense to score all three goals in a 3-1 Chelsea romp at Stamford Bridge.
Mexican international striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scored the consolation goal for the visitors, but only after Eto'o made Phil Jones look ridiculous like this:
Before being granted the freedom of Stamford Bridge to score like this:
Which he followed with an opportunistic strike from close range:
Those goals made Eto'o just the fourth player to score a hat trick against Manchester United in the Premier League era. The others: David Bentley (the onetime "next David Beckham" of English soccer), Dirk Kuyt, and Romelu Lukaku.
With the game pretty much out of reach, Hernandez found his way on to the field as a 56th-minute substitute for Ashley Young. Eighteen minutes later, he provided Manchester United's only sign of life in the second half:
With the three points, Chelsea moves into third place with 49 points, one behind Manchester City and two behind EPL leaders Arsenal.
For Chicharito and Manchester United, the situation is considerably worse. The Red Devils now sit seventh with 37 points, four behind Everton and a full seven behind Tottenham.