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Sport Soccer-That's why he's here, says Tuchel, as Lukaku earns Chelsea win

04:00  15 september  2021
04:00  15 september  2021 Source:   reuters.com

Thomas Tuchel hints at Chelsea strike partnership he has up his sleeve

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LONDON (Reuters) - If justification were needed for Chelsea's decision to spend 97 million pounds to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge, the Belgian provided it with a master striker's goal on Tuesday.

Champions League - Group H - Chelsea v Zenit St Petersburg © Reuters/HANNAH MCKAY Champions League - Group H - Chelsea v Zenit St Petersburg

In their first game in the competition since winning the Champions League against Manchester City in May, Chelsea were being frustrated by a well-drilled Zenit St Petersburg.

With little over 20 minutes remaining Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta delivered a peach of a cross towards Lukaku and the Belgian speared his header past keeper Stanislav Kritsyuk.

Lukaku’s ‘humble’ personality comes alongside goals – Tuchel

  Lukaku’s ‘humble’ personality comes alongside goals – Tuchel "He’s also super humble, he loves football, he loves to train and he’s such a good communicator."Lukaku scored the only goal of the game on Tuesday night as the Blues edged past Zenit in their Champions League opener.

It was Lukaku's fourth Chelsea goal since joining from Inter Milan and offered further evidence that he could be the key part of manager Thomas Tuchel's jigsaw this season.

"It was an excellent header, a well-timed cross by Azpilicueta," said German Tuchel, who has transformed Chelsea since replacing Frank Lampard in January.

"That's why he is here. He likes to score and he's decisive for us."

Tuchel can often be an animated figure on the touchline but he was calm throughout Chelsea's opening Group H clash even when his side were struggling to open up the resolute Russians.

Chelsea did not have a shot on target in the first half but picked up the pace after the break.

"It was not frustrating. It was tough against very strong opponents. We had to work really hard. I felt a huge intensity from us which we brought to the game," Tuchel said.

‘It’s that simple’ – Tuchel throws Chelsea gauntlet down to underperforming trio

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"We struggled a bit to create chances and shots in the first half. In the second half it was a bit easier to find spaces and shoot. It was a deserved win. Hard earned. It took us a while to make them tired but I liked what I saw."

While it was not a dazzling display by Tuchel's side, it was a 23rd clean sheet since he took charge -- more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues in the same period.

And it showed that when they are not firing on all cylinders they can grind out wins -- especially with a poacher like Lukaku offering an old-fashioned route to goal.

"The performance from Romelu was not easy. We didn't create many chances for him, we did not create many deliveries. But he's the type of guy who doesn't lose confidence and belief. And that is why he is here and makes him a world-class striker," he said.

"It's not the only talent he brings, he brings belief and he takes the pressure off the shoulders of other guys around him."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Pochettino ramps up CL pressure on Chelsea, admitting PSG lack what Tuchel has .
Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has explained why Chelsea look the favourites on paper to win the Champions League . © PA Images PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino looks on ahead of the Champions League match against Club Brugge, September 2021 The Blues, who are the holders from last season, got their title defence off to a winning start on Tuesday. Indeed, Romelu Lukaku’s header – his fourth goal in four games – proved the winner in a 1-0 victory over Zenit St Petersburg. Meanwhile, PSG come into this term’s competition – as always – with huge expectations.

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