Yesterday, it was all about Cristiano Ronaldo whose return to Old Trafford was glorified with a commendable victory over Newcastle United – Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice and set the world on fire, but at Stamford Bridge, there was another superstar who was making a comeback to the venue where he failed to live up to the expectations ten years ago. Yesterday, he fulfilled the expectations.
Chelsea had struggled with Saul Niguez felt like a fish out of the water courtesy of the intensity of Aston Villa after being handed his debut alongside Mateo Kovacic in midfield. Saul was out of sorts from the start and Villa’s midfielders quickly identified him as a weak link, repeatedly hustling him off the ball before looking to link with Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins.
John McGinn released Watkins and the striker looked certain to score after rounding Edouard Mendy, only for Thiago Silva to deny him with a magnificent block.
There were more near misses for Villa. Watkins threatened with a low drive and Chelsea were indebted to a heroic piece of goalkeeping from Mendy, who repelled a powerful shot from Tyrone Mings before springing to his feet to claw the rebound from Ezri Konsa wide.
Chelsea remained calm and composed and when Cesar Azpilicueta charged down the right flank in stoppage time and slipped a pass inside to Lukaku, who only had one thing on his mind when he received the ball on the edge of the area.
If the footwork from Lukaku was impressive, the strike was even better which left Jed Steer, hopelessly grasping at thin air. It was a masterful piece of forward play from one of the deadliest strikers in the world and, as the ball soared into the net, it was not hard to see why the Belgian was Tuchel’s top priority.
Villa pressed for an equalizer but after the break a dreadful back pass from Mings allowing Kovacic to score for the first time since December 2019.
Then Kovacic brilliantly burst through midfield and cut Villa open with a sweeping pass. There was no stopping Lukaku as he sped down the left, evaded Axel Tuanzebe’s lunge and easily beat Steer.
Stamford Bridge was the perfect blend between being a signing that radically improves what the squad has, and needed. He has given the Blues the much-needed extra fuel which they have been searching for a long time.