Chelsea need just one more point to automatically qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League after they dismantled a dogged Schalke side 3-0 this evening at Stamford Bridge.
Two goals from Samuel Eto'o and a strike from substitute Demba Ba saw off the Germans who had started the night level on points with the Londoners with six points apiece.
The Cameroon striker had a massive stroke of luck with his first, goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand smacking the ball straight into the right foot of Eto'o on 31 minutes which the rebounded back into his net.
The second soon after the half-time break broke any lingering resistance from the Germans and substitute Ba topped off a fine evening for the majority of the 41,194 crowd by slotting home with his second touch of the game.
The Blues remain top of Group E with one foot in the knockout stages already. A win or a draw in Chelsea's next game at Basle at the end of the month will ensure automatic qualification.
Jose Mourinho made six changes from the shambolic defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday, but the opening exchanges looked as if it was a continuation of that match as sloppy passing and a lack of a high tempo typified Chelsea's play.
Low shot, inches past Chelsea's goalkeeper Petr Cech's right post from playmaker Julian Draxler as the visitors went for the jugular early.
Then, seconds later on six minutes , Adam Szalai, after excellent set-up play by Draxler arrowed another low drive, that zipped past the same right post.
As if that wasn't a wake-up call the Blues needed, Mikel decided to lose possession in the middle of the pitch to that man Draxler. He passed to his left to Christian Fuchs who let fly with a fierce left-footer which went narrowly wide of Cech's other post.
Perhaps the best bit of news for the Blues came on 19 minutes when Draxler was yellow carded by Norway referee Svein Oddvar Moen for fouling Oscar.
From the resultant free-kick, German Andre Schurrle produced a fine, curling right-footed shot from 25 yards, that appeared to be headed straight into the back of the net. But Schalke's goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand produced a fine diving save to his right to parry the effort, with both his hands around the post for a corner.
Schurrle then had another curler, from just outside the away side's area, but it failed to trouble Hildebrand as Chelsea finally got to grips with the pace of the game and gained some serious possession of the ball.
I don't what is is with opposition goalkeeper's which gift Chelsea goals but it happened again on 31 minutes, when Hildebrand, with the ball at his feet at the edge of his penalty area, seemed to lose concentration and failed to notice Samuel Eto'o race towards him. The red-faced goalie still had time to kick the ball clear but hesitated is if mesmerised by the stealth like quality of the Cameroon hit man.
Eventually, and in truth this passage of play took about six seconds, in total, Hildebrand realised what was happening and kicked the ball out. but it went straight off Eto'o and back into his own net.
A howler from Joe Hart handed Fernando Torres a last-gasp winner in the recent league game at the Bridge against Manchester City and days later against Arsenal, Cesar Azpilicueta took advantage of a communications error between Carl Jenkinson and goalkeeper Fabianski.
With confidence behind them the Blues finished the half in the ascendancy.
Neither side saw an introduction of substitutes at half-time.
While Chelsea started as the finished on top, Schalke proved to be very adept on the counter-attack, and so it proved on 52 minutes when a fine breakaway saw the ball fall to Draxler on the right edge of the Chelsea penalty area. He cut inside and let flay, forcing Cech into a smart save.
Seconds later, and the Blues doubled their lead.
While their first goal was lucky, the second was clinical. Oscar fed the ball to Willian in the centre of the park. The Brazil midfielder raced forwards before sending the ball wide to Eto'o. The striker had but one thing on his mind, and he produced a fine right-footed strike, just inside the Schalke penalty area. Hildebrand saw the ball cut across him and nestle into the right corner of his net.
Schurrle then tried his luck, but this time Hildebrand did the right thing and smothered the German's shot.
Draxler's night ended on 62 minutes when he was replaced by Christian Clemens.
He was followed by Max Meyer for ineffectual Fuchs five minutes later.
Oscar had ten ball in the back of the net with 21 minutes remaining when he lobbed Hildebrand but he was adjudged to be offside by the referee.
A double substitution for Chelsea, saw Eto'o replaced by Demba Ba and Kevin De Bruyne on for Schurrle, as Mourinho sought to add some fresh legs to see out the match.
Ba, with his first touch, should have scored, but a powder puff shot from just inside the Germans penalty are was simplicity itself for Hildebrand to smother.
Frank Lampard was next to enter the fray minutes on 81 minutes, Oscar and making way for the crowd favourite.
Ba's second touch was lethal with eight minutes to go. A lofted ball saw Willian tap the ball to Lampard on the edge of Schalke's area. A delicate lob by Lampard over the German rearguard saw in-running Ba beat the offside trap and stroke home a clipped left-footer past Hildebrand to register his first goal of the season for the Blues.
That was it as fair as the action was concerned. Full credit must go to the travelling German fans who just kept on giving their players support.
Next up for Chelsea is a league encounter, on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion.
Team: Chelsea, Cech, Ivanovic, Ramires, Oscar, Mikel, Schurrle, Willian, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Eto'o
Subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Luiz, Lampard, Mata, De Bruyne, Ba
FC Schalke 04: Hildebrand, Howedes, Boateng, Jones, Aogo, Uchida, Fuchs, Szalai, Matip, Neustadter
subs: Fahrmann, Hoogland, Santana, Kolasinac, Meyer, Clemens, Ayhan
Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway)