Romelu Lukaku’s winner showed why Chelsea signed him, according to Thomas Tuchel after his side defeated Zenit 1-0 in their Champions League opener.
Lukaku’s first European goal for the Blues proved the difference as they made it 12 group-stage games without defeat on Tuesday.
Lukaku was the difference on Tuesday, scoring his first Champions League goal for Chelsea, who opened their title defence with a hard-fought victory at Stamford Bridge.
After scoring a brace against Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, club-record signing Lukaku backed that up with a towering 69th-minute header against the Russian champions in Group H.
Romelu Lukaku vs Zenit:
100% Aerial Duels Won (3/3)
2 Chances Created
Lukaku has scored four goals since arriving from Serie A champions Inter and Tuchel hailed the in-form Belgium international.
“The performance of 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,” Tuchel said during his post-match news conference.
“You don’t find many strikers of that quality and the guys who are there to score regularly for their teams are so, so important. There are not many goals in football and goals change the momentum of the match. It gives the whole team a lot of belief that maybe one half chance, one chance is enough for him to score.
“It’s not the only talent he brings, he brings belief, he himself has the belief and he takes the pressure off the shoulders of other guys around him. He has the personality not to be impatient or lose confidence. He does what he does at a very high level and we are very happy he’s with us. There are a lot of reasons we are maybe not at our top level at the moment. But right now with pre-season, new guys coming in, international breaks, and so on, I am happy with how we play and find us very competitive. We know how to handle difficulties during matches and today I liked what I have seen on the sideline because I felt the energy and the effort.
” They are a strong opponent and we have accepted and respect that. It was a tough [Aston] Villa team at the weekend and a tough Zenit team today. They changed their line-ups, their mentality when they arrived when they played us, we need to adapt and find solutions. This is what we do at the moment.”
“I’m happy with the win, happy with the goal, so happy days for us.”
Romelu Lukaku looks back on another successful display for Chelsea. What a return it’s been so far!