It took a late flurry of goals for Champions League holders Chelsea to look comfortable in beating Nordsjælland 4-0 at Parken Stadium.
Despite Juan Mata opening the scoring on 33 minutes, Roberto di Matteo's men had their hands full with the fearless and fluent play of the Danish rookie club.
The Blues back line and goalkeeper Petr Cech had to be at their best just to maintain the lead until 11 minutes from the end when a superlative David Luiz free-kick finally put daylight between David and Goliath.
Their resistance breached, Kasper Hjulmand's side then fell prey to a stylish finale from the Premier League outfit which saw Mata double up and Ramires get in on the act.
Playing host to the defending champions in their maiden Champions League home tie, Nordsjaelland were widely tipped to be put under serious pressure by the multi-million pound talents of Mata, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and company from the get-go.
And though it took a Jores Okore interception to deny Victor Moses a close-range opener three minutes in – causing the club vice-captain to require heavy bandaging for a head wound when he collided with the upright in the process – the 21-year-old club gave a good early account for themselves.
If anything , Chelsea’s first goal was somewhat out of the blue and the result of some complacency from the hosts, as Enoch Adu gave possession away cheaply to Torres, who fed Lampard for a sumptuous through pass to Mata’s run inside from the right which the forward coolly finished.
Nordsjaelland continued to make their illustrious guests fight in every area of the pitch but the best chance in the remainder of the half fell to Torres who had a strong low shot kept out by goalkeeper Jesper Hansen before his conversion of the rebound drew the offside flag.
Moses also had the ball in the net eight minutes into the second half but had fouled Michael Parkhurst to win possession in the seconds before.
But with the impressive and seemingly bionic Okore keeping other possible Chelsea attacks quiet whilst also providing a series of lofted through passes, the hosts came close to parity on a number of occasions.
Skipper Nicolai Stokholm tested Cech just after the hour mark while Mikkel Beckmann really should have done better with a looping header from an Okore assist.
And when Twente loanee Joshua John skipped inside the Chelsea box from the left wing only to have his top-corner-bound curler tipped onto the woodwork by the Czech stopper, with Ashley Cole lunging in to prevent a Beckmann follow-up, any hope of an eyebrow-raising result seemed dim.
Six minutes later, any hope at all was finally killed off as Luiz came forward to take a free-kick after Lampard had hit the wall with one moments prior, picking out an opening and doubling the advantage in superb fashion.
The Londoners finally began to carry themselves as European champions and soon added another pair, with a fluid one-touch attacking move ending with Mata scoring again after his attempt to set up Lampard was blocked.
And Torres’s deft lay-off on 89 minutes gave Oscar the opportunity to burst through a pair of defenders and cut back a low ball from the byline to the waiting feet of Ramires for the easiest of tap-ins.
Though the expected outcome was finally attained, Chelsea had to work to bring their trophy defence to winning ways and Nordsjaelland showed enough to suggest they could play Group E spoilers to someone before the year is out.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jores Okore - Nordsjaelland: Surprising most by returning from an early head-on collision with the goalpost, the bandaged 20-year-old made a name for himself with a strong performance at the back and going forward against the Champions League holders.
Nordsjælland: Hansen 6, Okore 8, Mtiliga 5 , Parkhurst 6, Runje 4, Adu 5, Stokholm 7, Lorentzen 5, Beckmann 5, Nordstrand 6, John 7. Subs: Christensen 5, Ticinovic 5, Laudrup n/a
Chelsea: Cech 8, Ivanovic 7, Cole 7, Luiz 8, Cahill 6, Ramires 7, Lampard 7, Oscar 6, Torres 7, Mata 8, Moses 5. Sub: Hazard 6, Mikel n/a
- Champions League
- Frank Lampard
- Fernando Torres
- Juan Mata