Frank Lampard said he was ‘delighted’ that Christian Pulisic managed to get on the scoresheet in Chelsea’s 3-1 victory over Leeds United and hailed the forward’s ‘incredible gift’ of arriving in the six-yard box just at the right time.
The Blues suffered an early scare at Stamford Bridge as their former player, Patrick Bamford, rounded Edouard Mendy and found the back of the net to break the deadlock in only the fourth minute of Saturday’s Premier League clash.
But Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma scored either side of the break to give the hosts the lead and Pulisic – who replaced the injured Hakim Ziyech on the half-hour mark – directed home Timo Werner’s cross to put the icing on the cake at the death.
Pulisic has been sidelined for much of the season with a hamtring injury and Chelsea head coach Lampard was pleased the American was able to put his frustrations behind him with his goal.
‘I’m really pleased; it’s been a difficult period for him with the injury and he gets frustrated because he wants to play,’ he said.
‘Having played 65 minutes at Sevilla I knew this game would have a huge amount of energy for the players and I thought it was wise to start him on the bench.
‘My plan was probably to give him 30 minutes, but to play the period of the game he played with the intensity of the game and get his goal, it’s massive.
‘He has an incredible gift, it sounds simple, but to arrive in the six-yard box as a wide man, because that’s where the goals are.
‘So I was delighted that he got his goal and he is only going to get stronger now.’
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa reserved special praise for N’Golo Kante after the match and Lampard said he was ‘fortunate’ to have a player of such quality in his squad.
‘When you ask N’Golo to do anything on the football pitch in a midfield sense, when you tell him there’s going to be a test put in front of him, he quietly goes about it in the most incredible way,’ Lampard added.
‘Leeds’ midfield is so mobile that the test was always going to be there, and I felt we dealt with that brilliantly – and N’Golo was a big part of that.
‘Last year people talked a lot about N’Golo, and I think he played about 50 per cent of the games.
‘When I came to the club he was coming off the back of a bad injury, which became a bit of a domino effect for him.
‘This year, when I watch him play and see what he can do, I can only say that I’m fortunate to work with him.’