New Delhi: Steven Naismith on Saturday inflicted what could be the telling blow to champions Chelsea's Premier League title defence as Everton romped to a 3-1 win at Goodinson Park.
After a horrendous start to the season, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea once again found themselves wanting in many aspects of the game especially in defence, against an rampant home in Liverpool.
And taking full advantage of that seemingly sloppy defence was Steven Naismith, unlikeliest of goal-poachers. He scored a hat-trick coming off the bench.
The 28-year-old Scottish opened the scoring as early as the 17th minute with a controlled header after replacing injured Muhamed Besic in the ninth minute.
In the 22nd minute, Naismith doubled the lead with a left-footed drill off a Ross Barkley assist. Nemanja Matic did produced a gem of a long rnage strike in the 36th minute to keep the Blues in the contest, but Barkley once again provided a precise through pass, from which Naismith completed his hat-trick and to possibly derail Mourinho's title defence bid.
Interestingly, the last player to score a hat-trick off a substitute was Naismith's striking partner Romelu Lukaku today. On May 19, 2013, In Alex Ferguson's last game in charge as Manchester United manager, Lukaku turned up as a West Bromwich Albion player to score three times in a 5-5 draw at The Hawthorns.
With today's win, Everton have temporarily climbed to third spot after five games with eight points which included two wins, two draws and a defeat.
And, Chelsea have slipped to 15th place with four points. Their only win in this campaign coming against West Brom on August 23. They have lost to Manchester City (0-3) and Crystal Palace (1-2) after the season opener 2-2 draw with Swansea.