Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was delighted with his 1-0 victory, although he admitted Zenit proved difficult to break through, while Romelu Lukaku offered the response of a prototype striker when he was asked about Antonio Rudiger’s solo race.
Chelsea worked hard for much of the game against Zenit until club record signing Romelu Lukaku found the breakthrough. Spotted from a superb cross from Cesar Azpilicueta, the Belgian hitman did what he can do best by glancing at the ball inside the far post.
With a lead finally acquired, the Blues then set about doing what they do best as a collective unit – keeping the sheets clean.
Zenit pushed for an equalizer but their efforts were ultimately in vain as Chelsea started their Champions League campaign with a relentless 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.
Talk to BT Sport After the game, Tuchel said: “It was not frustrating. It was tough against very strong opponents. We had to work very hard. I felt a tremendous amount of intensity from us that we brought to the game.
“We had a little trouble creating chances and shots in the first half. In the second half, it was a little easier to find spaces and shoot. It was a deserved victory. Hard earned. It took us a while to tire them out but I liked what I saw.
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“You need the energy of the crowd and it was a fantastic atmosphere.
“It was an excellent head [from Lukaku for the goal], a well-timed cross of Azpilicueta. He had the courage to intervene and we had bodies in the box. That’s why he [Lukaku] is here. He likes to score and he is decisive for us.
“We were expecting a tough game because it’s the highest competition in Europe and it’s the champions of Russia.
“We had to be at our best. I’m happy because we had to work a lot. It was not easy. It is difficult to perform regularly at this level.
“Winning is good for our faith. We are not finished but we are in a good position to improve. The first step is done. But there are five games left to play [in the group stage]. “
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Lukaku offers predictable response to Rudiger race
Chelsea match winner Lukaku also addressed the press, recounting BT Sport: “I’m really happy with the victory. Today was a better performance than the weekend. We must continue to grow.
“Me and Caesar [Azpilicueta] agree on certain types of movements on the ground. I had to have the right timing but it was a great ball from him. We knew it would be a tough game, but we controlled it very well.
Regarding Rudiger’s superb solo run which almost ended in a goal, Lukaku joked: “I was waiting for the ball at the end! It was good. It kept the team and the crowd moving.
When asked what a Champions League win with Chelsea would look like, the Belgian concluded: “One game at a time. Today is the first game. Now we have a tough game this weekend against Tottenham. “
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