Holders Chelsea hammered Nordsjaelland 6-1 at Stamford Bridge but were eliminated from the Champions League after Juventus won at Shakhtar Donetsk.
David Luiz scored the third of three penalties awarded for handball in a 15-minute spell in the first half, with Nicolai Stokholm missing for Nordsjaelland before Eden Hazard also saw his kick saved for the Blues.
Fernando Torres doubled their lead in first-half injury time only to see Nordsjaelland’s Joshua John pull one back 21 seconds into the second half.
Fears of a comeback were quickly quelled as Gary Cahill, Torres, Juan Mata and substitute Oscar finished the job, but it was futile as Juve won 1-0 against Shakhtar in Ukraine – and those teams finished in the top two places respectively.
Chelsea, who impressed for the first time under Rafael Benitez, must settle for a place in the Europa League while Nordsjaelland, competing in Europe’s premier club competition for the first time this season, were consigned to bottom spot before the match began.
Benitez, brought in after the loss at Juventus on the previous matchday that spelled the end of Roberto Di Matteo’s reign, started former Barcelona youth product Oriol Romeu at the base of midfield in place of John Obi Mikel, who in the afternoon had signed a five-year contract.
He also unsurprisingly kept faith with Torres, with Mata, Hazard and Victor Moses supporting him and Brazilian Oscar on the bench.
The Blues attacked from the start, with Moses and Torres forcing near-post saves out of Jesper Hansen in the opening 10 minutes.
The match was end-to-end with Chelsea camped in the Nordsjaelland half but the Danish side a threat on the counter.
Chelsea almost went in front on 27 minutes when Moses sprung the offside trap and cut the ball across goal from the right byline where Nordsjaelland captain Nicolai Stokholm sliced against his own crossbar.
The penalty madness began four minutes later. Cahill handballed while outside the box, but his hand looked close to the line; Dutch referee Bas Nijhuis pointed to the spot. Up stepped Stokholm, but Petr Cech was equal to his firmly-struck kick.
Chelsea were galvanised and Hansen saved a Torres toepoke before Cahill headed for goal from the resultant corner, with substitute Mikkel Beckmann – on for Croatian centre-half Ivan Runje, who was injured earl y in the match – clearly blocking the effort with his arm.
Hazard’s spot-kick was similar to the one before it, and Hansen pushed the ball around the post.
Yet three minutes further on they had another chance when Patrick Mtiliga blocked a Mata strike. This one was extremely harsh as he had his arms by his side and was looking in the other direction.
Luiz took responsibility this time, and despatched it into the top corner with aplomb.
Mata constantly buzzed around the final third for the Blues, with Moses also looking dangerous from the right and Torres clearly desperate to impress. The Spain striker had the goal he craved when Moses slipped him in and he rounded Hansen, scoring at the second attempt after a save by the keeper’s legs.
There was a scare when Nordsjaelland came flying out of the blocks in the second half: Kasper Lorentzen lifted a ball through for John, and the striker on loan from Twente clipped a lovely finish over the diving Cech from the left.
Cahill headed home a Mata free-kick five minutes later and another five minutes after that Torres had his brace, playing in Hazard on the left before the Belgian cut back into the six-yard box for the maligned frontman to finish from close range.
However in between those strikes Juventus took the lead, and the players must have been well aware given the hush that fell over the Bridge.
The imperious Mata got the goal he deserved when he finished at the second attempt after playing a one-two with Hazard. It was the ninth goal of the season for Chelsea’s top scorer.
Oscar, who replaced Ramires in a deep role, notched the final goal for Chelsea – again provided by Mata – but with Shakhtar unable to score at the Donbass Arena, the fans were leaving well before the end.