What Chelsea stars did to Kurt Zouma during goal celebrations as Christian Pulisic repeats feat
Thomas Tuchel’s side moved back into the Premier League top four yesterday with a convincing 4-1 victory against Crystal Palace at Selhurt Park
Thomas Tuchel reaches another landmark
Given Chelsea have been beaten just once in 16 matches since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the end of January, it’s no great surprise the German coach has reached several landmarks rather quickly at Stamford Bridge.
The 14-game unbeaten run the Blues embarked on following Tuchel’s appointment was a club record start by a new head coach.
The seven matches they went without conceding in the Premier League, meanwhile, was an achievement only matched by Jose Mourinho’s all-conquering 2004/05 Premier League title winners.
Chelsea’s defence was breached as Selhurst Park, although Christian Benteke’s excellent second-half header meant little in the grand scheme of a game that ended in a 4-1 victory for the visitors.
It was a day for the Blues’ attackers with Christian Pulisic scoring twice, Kai Havertz once and Mason Mount receiving the broadcasters’ man-of-the-match award.
The win was the perfect antidote to last weekend’s 5-2 horror show against West Bromwich Albion, proof that Chelsea are not going to blow up in the race for a place in the Premier League top four.
And it also meant Tuchel reached another landmark. His side are now unbeaten in six away matches in the Premier League (W4, D2). The only other Chelsea head coach to avoid defeat in their opening six away league games in charge at Stamford Bridge was Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The Brazilian reached ten matches on the road before tasting defeat. Given the Blues only have three away Premier League matches remaining, Tuchel may have to wait until next season to emulate that achievement,
But they must first avoid defeat at West Ham United, Manchester City and Aston Villa before this campaign ends.
Well it’s Groundhog Day
Christian Pulisic does seem to enjoy playing Crystal Palace.
It was against Roy Hodgson’s side that the American star scored his first-ever goal at Stamford Bridge. He netted at Selhurst Park last season too. And, of course, he struck an excellent brace in yesterday’s win.
The first goal of the 22-year-old’s double certainly caught the eye. From close range but at a tight angle, Pulisic rifled the ball into the top corner of Vicente Guaita’s goal. The Spaniard simply had no chance of stopping it.
It was a stunning finish from Pulisic and eerily similar to the goal he netted in this fixture last season.
Same kit. Same end. Same foot. Same corner. Same outcome.
Christian Pulisic fires home during Chelsea’s 4-1 win at Crystal Palace (Image: Justin Tallis – Pool/Getty Images)
Pulisic’s double was a moment of vindication for Tuchel, who brought the American into the starting XI at the expense of Timo Werner; the German forward dropped to the bench after an ineffective outing against Porto in midweek.
The brace from the USMNT star also helped Chelsea score more than two goals in a game for the first time since Tuchel took the helm at the club.
“I feel it’s very difficult to score in the Premier League in any match,” Tuchel said after the game. “So if we score four goals today and create a lot of chances to score more, we had a very good offensive performance altogether.
“But you cannot divide this match into offence and defence. It’s a complex game and while we were attacking we were closing spaces and did not allow Crystal Palace to escape the pressure. We had ball recoveries and were brave in closing up the pitch while attacking.
“I will always give credit to everybody. The message we give is very clear: we defend and attack together. And when we are able to produce positive results, a lot of clean sheets, it will always stay a team effort. Nothing will change in that message.
“We are happy today we created a lot and this can happen. Next Tuesday against Porto, we will start from scratch and it will be hard again.”
Unusual celebration after Kurt Zouma’s goal
The Frenchman has made goalscoring something of a habit this season. In fact, no defender has found the net on more occasions in the Premier League than Zouma (5) since the start of the campaign.
His goal at Selhurst Park came in the first half and with Chelsea already two goals ahead. Mason Mount delivered a free-kick into the Crystal Palace penalty area and Zouma rose above former Blue Gary Cahill and planted his header beyond the stranded Guaita.
Zouma headed off to the corner flag to celebrate only for Cesar Azpilicueta to halt the centre-back and embrace him on the byline. He was soon joined by several of his Chelsea team-mates, but they weren’t quite as loving.
Antonio Rudiger was first to arrive and he playfully slapped Zouma square in the face. Mateo Kovacic then leant over the crowd of players and clipped the 26-year-old on the back of the head before Jorginho and Rudiger continued to kindly hit the France international.
The ‘celebration’ was then finished off by Mount who followed suit with a slap to the back of Zouma’s head. With friends like these..
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