The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Lam­pard sees bright fu­ture for Amer­i­can

ASTONVILLA CHELSEA 1 2

- Sports · Soccer · Premier League (England) · Frank Lampard · Christian Pulisic · Chelsea F.C. · Aston Villa Football Club · Manchester United F.C. · Manchester · Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. · Mason Mount · United States of America · César Azpilicueta · David Villa · Olivier Giroud · Kortney Hause · Kepa Arrizabalaga · Anwar El Ghazi

Boss Frank Lam­pard has backed Chris­tian Pulisic to make the dif­fer­ence in the race for top four af­ter Chelsea’s come­back win at As­ton Villa.

For­ward Pulisic and Olivier Giroud turned the game around in 121 sec­onds af­ter the break as the vis­i­tors sur­vived a scare to se­cure a 2-1 win.

Chelsea dom­i­nated only to fall be­hind to Kort­ney Hause’s opener just be­fore half time on Sun­day. They re­cov­ered to ce­ment their po­si­tion in fourth, mov­ing five points ahead of Manch­ester United and Wolves.

It was Pulisic’s first ap­pear­ance since Jan­uary af­ter an ab­duc­tor mus­cle in­jury and Lam­pard feels he is ready to make an im­pact again.

“He will start games for us, of course, and I think he’s go­ing to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in but go­ing for­ward,” he said, af­ter his 100th game as a man­ager.

“The abil­ity he’s got to ar­rive in the box, it’s a big thing. It’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a very good player off the side, an at­tack­ing player, or the play­ers at the real top level of the game that ar­rive and score in the six-yard box and hit num­bers yearly.

“I re­ally think Chris­tian can do that, so I was re­ally pleased with him, the im­pact he made when he came on.”

Chelsea dom­i­nated from the start and Or­jan Ny­land par­ried Ma­son Mount’s drive but they went into the break 1-0 be­hind af­ter Hause bun­dled in fol­low­ing Kepa Ar­riz­a­bal­aga fine saved from An­war El Ghazi.

Pulisic was in­tro­duced 10 min­utes into the sec­ond half and five min­utes later the USA in­ter­na­tional equalised, fir­ing in Ce­sar Azpilicuet­a’s cross from close range.

Azpilicuet­a then cre­ated the win­ner for Giroud al­most in­stantly and the striker was given time to turn, with his 12-yard shot de­flect­ing be­yond Ny­land.

Jota could have lev­elled with two min­utes left but fired wide to leave Villa sec­ond bot­tom.

Boss Dean Smith said: “The two games we’ve played at home the play­ers have been in the zone. We should have won the first game and to­day we have come up against a top-four Premier League side.

“Un­for­tu­nately a lit­tle bit of qual­ity and for­tune favoured them. The thing we have worked on dur­ing the pause is be­ing tougher to beat and we have be­come that.

“Peo­ple who saw that will know how hard Chelsea had to work to break us down. It won’t be doom and gloom even though it’s a big dis­ap­point­ment.”

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