Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 November 2019

Frank Lampard praises 'quality' of Christian Pulisic after key cameo in Chelsea's win over Ajax

The 1-0 victory in Amsterdam moved the Premier League club level on points with their Dutch opponents in Champions League Group H

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard reserved special praise for Christian Pulisic after the American winger came off the bench to make a telling impact in the 1-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday.

With the Champions League game in Amsterdam seemingly heading for a goalless draw, Pulisic - who replaced Willian after 66 minutes - set up fellow substitute Michy Batshuayi to score the winner in the 85th minute.

The victory ensured Chelsea moved level with Ajax on six points in Group H, collecting a second successive win following what could have been a damaging home defeat against Valencia in their opening game.

Pulisic joined Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of around €64 million euros (Dh262m) in the close season to become the most expensive American player in history but has struggled for minutes, making only three Premier League starts.

But he gave Lampard a timely reminder of his talents inside the Amsterdam ArenA, and the manager insists the 21-year-old is a key part of his plans and has called for patience.

"Sometimes the toughest part of management is leaving out players that really want to play week-in, week-out. You rely on them being positive and coming on to make an impact," Lampard told reporters.

"You have to give Christian huge credit because he looked so lively and the assist is just as important as the finish."

Pulisic had admitted to being frustrated by limited playing time, with the media speculating that he could leave Chelsea on loan during the January transfer window.

"I've tried to shut my ears to a lot of the outside talk ... I understand his quality, his young age and the fact that it's a big move for him," Lampard said.

"He wants to know what I want from him, what the Premier League is like and that's not always an easy ride but we've stayed calm and kept looking at the big picture."

Lampard said the result in the Dutch capital had set the benchmark for his youthful side.

"It feels huge. That always scares me because there's a lot to do and it's just six points halfway through the group now, but we're entitled to be excited," he said.

"It can be a bit of a blueprint for us in terms of the work from the midfield players which was outstanding ... but there's no excuses for us now to dip from that.

"The younger players are still babies in Champions League minutes so this was a huge test, but the balance of our team between young players and experienced players who they rely on to set examples was good."

Updated: October 24, 2019 08:37 AM

SHARE

SHARE

Editor's Picks