Before now, Lukaku was not happy that whenever he was doing well on the pitch, the media would say he is in form instead of categorizing him as a world-class striker like Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski.
On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, Zenith traveled from Russia to London to take on Chelsea, the reigning champions of the UEFA Champions League. The Russian side played like giants and gave the Premier League club no breathing space.
Thomas Tuchel could not come up with a better formula to break the solid defense of Zenith throughout the first half. Hence, Chelsea ended the first half without scoring a goal.
In the second half, the Premier League side created a couple of chances and had only two shots on target. One of the shots on target came off the head of Romelu Lukaku in the 69th minute which led to the only goal of the match.
The 1-0 win has pushed Chelsea to the second spot of the Champions League Group H table below Juventus with two goals difference.
After the narrow win, Thomas Tuchel noted that the performance of Romelu Lukaku was not easy because his team found it difficult to create goalscoring opportunities for him.
Even as that, the Belgian striker was able to squeeze out a goal and gave the reigning UEFA Champions League winners the needed three points.
“The performance from Romelu was not easy”, Thomas Tuchel said after Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Zenith. “We didn’t create many chances for him but he’s the type of guy who doesn’t lose confidence and belief. And that is why he is a world-class striker.
“He’s super important, it’s as easy as that. You don’t find many strikers of his quality.
“We did win also without Romelu and produced results. But he was the type of profile we were missing, not just because of the talent but because of the personality. He is such a humble guy, a super communicator in the dressing room, and that creates certain energy around him in the team that we are proud of and what to have.
“The spirit and atmosphere last year took us very far and it’s important we have it again. We have it with Romelu, he knows what the club is about.
“We have him and we are very pleased because he gives everybody around him confidence.”
Thomas Tuchel acknowledges Romelu Lukaku’s fire power
Lukaku’s goal against Zenith means that the Belgian striker has scored four goals in his four appearances since he returned to Chelsea in August 2021. For both club and country, Lukaku has recorded seven goals in six games.
According to Opta, only Robert Lewandowski (21), Erling Haaland (20), and Bruno Fernandes (17) have scored more goals than Romelu Lukaku (14) in major European competition since the start of the 2019-2020 season.
The Belgian international recorded his four goals for Chelsea this season from just six shots on target which confirmed how clinical Lukaku has become.
“There are not many goals in football and goals change the momentum of the match. It gives the whole team believes that one chance is enough for him to score. So it’s not the only talent he brings, he brings belief and takes the pressure off the shoulders of other guys around him.
“He has the personality not to lose confidence. He is at a very high level and we are very happy to have him with us.”
On the outcome of the Champions League game, Thomas Tuchel said: “I am happy in general with the performance. It was a tough match against a strong opponent. It was tough for us in the first half to find little gaps, accelerate the game, be dangerous and create touches in the box ball.
“We played with high intensity and had many ball recoveries. We had to be focused and aware of our defense because they have a lot of individual quality upfront.
“We did all that and in the second half, we found it easier to find spaces in between the lines, to accelerate, create half-chances, deliveries. And the cross from Azpi was good and dangerous because it comes from a difficult place to defend around the box. The target was the second post and Kai (Havertz) and Romelu were there. It was nice and at the same time a decisive goal that was very good for us.”
Things you love to see. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/INLgtgKLMD— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 14, 2021