Chelsea defeated Zenit to begin their Champions League championship defense with a victory.
According to Thomas Tuchel, Romelu Lukaku’s winner demonstrated why Chelsea acquired him after his team overcame Zenit 1-0 in their Champions League opener.
On Tuesday, Lukaku’s first European goal for the Blues was the difference as they went 12 games without losing in the group stage. Lukaku has scored four goals in three games against Russian opponents, and only Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland, and Bruno Fernandes have scored more European goals since joining Inter in the 2019-20 season.
This performance by the former Manchester United striker justifies Tuchel’s club-record price for him, according to Tuchel. Tuchel told BT Sport after the game, “It was a wonderful header [from Lukaku for the score], a well-timed cross by [Cesar] Azpilicueta.”
“We had bodies in the box because he was bold enough to stand up. That’s why he’s here [Lukaku]. He enjoys scoring goals and is a key player for us.” Only two out of 28 times in the competition’s history has the defending champions lost the opening match, and no title defender has ever been defeated at home in their first group-stage match.
Since the start of last season, only Manchester City (11) has won more Champions League matches than Chelsea (10) and Tuchel was pleased with his team’s start in Group H. As the head coach added, “We had to be at our very best”. “I’m relieved since we had to put in a lot of effort.” It was not an easy task. It’s difficult to maintain that level of performance on a regular basis.
“We expected a tough game because it’s Europe’s premier league and the Russian champions are playing.” We took a long time to tire them out, but I loved what I saw. “Success strengthens our faith. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re on the right track. “We’ve completed the first step.” But [in the group stage], there are five more matches to play.]”