Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel was delighted with the 1-0 win, despite admitting Zenit was tough to crack, while Romelu Lukaku provided a prototypical response from a striker when asked about Antonio Rüdiger’s solo run.
Chelsea worked for much of the competition against Zenit until club record holder Romelu Lukaku found the breakthrough. Picked up with a great cross from Cesar Azpilicueta, the Belgian killer did what he does best when he shot the ball into the far post.
With a lead finally gained, the Blues then set out to do what they do best as a collective entity – keep the blades clean.
Zenit pushed for an equalizer but their efforts were ultimately in vain as Chelsea kicked off their Champions League season with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
Speak with BT Sport After the game, Tuchel said, “It wasn’t frustrating. It was tough against very strong opponents. We had to work really hard. I felt an enormous amount of intensity from us that we brought into the game.
“We struggled a bit in the first half to get chances and shots. In the second half it was a little easier to find spots and shoot. It was a deserved win. Hard earned. It took us a while to tire her, but I liked what I saw.
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“You need the energy of the audience and it was a fantastic atmosphere.
“It was a great header [from Lukaku for the goal], a well-timed flank from Azpilicueta. He was brave enough to get up and we had bodies in the box. That’s why he is [Lukaku] is here. He likes to meet and is crucial for us.
“We expected a tough game because it’s the highest competition in Europe and it’s the Russian champions.
“We had to be at our top level. I am happy because we had to work a lot. It was’nt easy. It’s hard to be consistent at this level.
“Winning is good for our faith. We’re not done yet, but we’re in a good place to improve. The first step is taken. But there are still five matches to go [in the group stage]. “
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Lukaku offers a predictable response to the Rüdiger run
Chelsea match winner Lukaku also spoke to and told the press BT Sport: “I’m very happy about the win. Today was a better performance than the weekend. We have to keep growing. “
“Me and Cesar [Azpilicueta] agree on certain movements on the field. I had to get my timing right, but it was a beautiful ball from him. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we controlled it really well.
Lukaku joked about Rüdiger’s grandiose solo run, which almost led to a goal: “In the end I expected the ball! It was good. It got the team and the audience going. “
When asked what it would be like to win the Champions League with Chelsea, the Belgian concluded: “One game at a time. Today is the first game. Now we have a difficult game against Tottenham at the weekend.
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