Chelsea summer arrival Hakim Ziyech produced a sublime performance in Morocco’s African Cup of Nations qualifying match against Central African Republic, scoring twice and providing an exquisite assist in his side’s comprehensive 4-1 victory.
The attacking midfielder hit the ground running in west London and became the first player since Diego Costa back in 2014 to find the net in his opening two games for Chelsea away to Krasnodar and Burnley in the Champions League and Premier League respectively.
He then assisted both Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva in the Blues’ emphatic win over Sheffield United last weekend.
The international break came at a frustrating time for Chelsea given they had just won their last four games on the bounce but Ziyech’s display last night will undoubtedly have put a smile on Frank Lampard’s face.
Morocco went in front in only the 10th minute as Ziyech put the ball on a plate for Inter Milan’s Achraf Hakimi, who made no mistake from close range.
The visitors levelled midway through the first half and the equaliser seemed to kick Morroco and Ziyech back into gear, with the Chelsea man converting from the spot before finding the net from a tight angle just two minutes later.
Zakaria Aboukhlal extended Morocco’s advantage just past the hour-mark to put the game out of sight and the win solidifies their position at the top of Group E ahead of the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, due to take place in January 2022.
Lampard showered Ziyech with praise after Chelsea’s victory over Sheffield United last weekend and said his summer signing had added ‘magic’ and ‘quality’ to the team.
‘Maybe there’s some more to come, he hasn’t played games for a long time and off the back of an injury he’s hit the ground running,’ Lampard told Chelsea TV shortly after their 4-1 win.
‘But his work ethic has been great, his desire to win the ball back for a modern-day winger is imperative to the press.
‘I wanted him to bring something different and he’s clearly brought that in these early stages and hopefully we can keep working on that.’