Samuel Eto'o Chelsea
Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o celebrates after scoring against Manchester United in the English Premier League 19 January. Reuters

Samuel Eto'o went a little off the radar for the last couple of years, earning a much-earned pre-retirement bonus in Russia. Then came that call from Jose Mourinho and a chance to strut his stuff in the English Premier League for the first time.

The first few months haven't been oh-man-this-guy-has-still-got-it great; until now that is. Eto'o exploded into life in some style, and that too against the English Premier League champions, scoring his first league hat-trick in five years to put Manchester United, beleaguered, and looking like a shadow's shadow of themselves, to the sword, and helping Chelsea to a 3-1 victory.

Two goals in the first half and one early in the second from the Cameroonian knocked the stuffing out of United, with Chelsea grabbing themselves three crucial points to move back to within two points of leaders Arsenal.

United's slightest of slight chances of retaining their Premier League title vanished quicker than a mouse that caught sight of a cat courtesy the loss, with David Moyes' men now 14 points behind the league leaders, and six adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool.

The alarming aspect about the United loss is the fact that Chelsea were not even remotely at their best, with the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar having forgettable games; still it was more than good enough for one of the more worry-free wins they have had all season.

Eto'o was chosen as the lone striker over Fernando Torres, and it proved to be a masterstroke from Jose Mourinho, who incidentally earned his 100th Premier League win as Chelsea manager, with the Cameroonian having the game of his veteran life.

Even if Chelsea took control of the game via the two first half goals, it was Manchester United who jumped off the blocks much better, keeping the ball well and looking like the team that wanted the opening goal more.

For all of United's possession, though, no clearcut chances came their way, and that too despite Antonio Valencia and Rafael getting a lot of joy on the right hand side.

United were playing with Adnan Januzaj as one of most advanced attackers, with Danny Welbeck. That allowed Januzaj, easily the Premier League champions' brightest player, to run the channels, with a couple of good crosses also coming across - but that player to turn the ball into the back of the net was as unavailable as an opening day ticket for a Rajinikanth film.

Chelsea opened the scoring in basically their first concerted attack, with Eto'o showing shades of his old prowess, when he used to run at defenders and make them look like amateurs.

The Cameroonian got his head down, did a little basketball-like crossover move to leave Phil Jones for dead, before curling a strike with his left foot which took a chunky deflection off Michael Carrick's ankle to loop into the top corner of the net.

The opening goal came in the 17th minute, which meant United still had plenty of time to get back into the game and attempt to administer Mourinho's first loss at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. However, that cutting edge, without their talismans Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie was just not there, with Januazaj, all of 18-years-old, unable to do it all on his own.

Welbeck had a golden opportunity to make it 1-1, though, with Januzaj, who else, finding a cross for the striker, but his shot from six yards out was a weak one, even if United did have a pretty good case for a penalty with Cesar Azpilicueta seemingly clipping Welbeck's feet from behind just when he was gearing up to shoot.

Samuel Eto'o Chelsea
Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o scores his second goal against Manchester United. Reuters

However, a penalty or a goal it was not to be, and Chelsea's grip on those three points got a little firmer right on the stroke of halftime, when Eto'o struck again. Valencia cleared a corner towards the halfway line, with Ramires picking up the ball and, afforded too much space, picked out a ball out to Cahill on the right channel. The Chelsea defender also had plenty of time to play in a nice cross for Eto'o, in acres of space, to turn it in from seven yards.

There was still a sense of "Ok let's get our heads together, come out in the second half with more purpose and show just why we are the champions" feeling at halftime, but all those hopes of United making a game of it were blown out of the water four minutes into the second 45.

Cahill was given a free header off a corner, with De Gea just about keeping out that effort, but unable to do anything about Eto'o rebound from a yard out.

The match was over as a contest with that goal, as United's spirit went out of them quicker than air out of a torn balloon, with Javier Hernandez, brought on too little too late, and his typical opportunistic strike 12 minutes from time nothing but a consolation.

United's day was compounded when skipper Nemanja Vidic was shown a red card for a challenge on Hazard in stoppage time, with David Moyes' "I want to dig a hole for myself and never come out" expression painting the perfect picture.

Other result: Swansea (Wilfried Bony 78) 1-3 Tottenham (Emmanuel Adebayor (34, 71, Chico Flores 53 (OG)).