Hakim Ziyech has aired his relief at bringing a “long” wait for a first goal at Stamford Bridge to a close, with the Moroccan winger breaking an 11-game barren run in the Champions League win over Atletico Madrid.
The 27-year-old, who joined the Blues from Ajax during the summer of 2020, put Thomas Tuchel’s side on their way to a 2-0 victory over the Liga leaders which has booked them a place in the quarter-finals.
His effort came as he put the finishing touches to a sweeping counter-attack, and the forward is pleased to be proving his worth in what has been a testing debut campaign in England.
What has been said?
Ziyech told Chelsea’s official website of the strike that saw him open a goal account on home soil at the 12th attempt: “It was an important goal and I had to wait a long time for it.
“We took the ball well in midfield and we used it in space and it was a good delivery and it was a good finish. It is always a good feeling when you go 1-0 in front and especially when you score it yourself, and the delivery for Timo [Werner] was good and the pass from Kai [Havertz] before as well.
“It was a good counter-attack and we knew for our game there was a bit more space and there was calmness in our game, and it came at a good moment.”
Ziyech added on combining with fellow new recruits: “Kai and me, we know Timo’s game and try to use him in the space because we know he is really fast, and we did it well in this game.
“There were some difficult moments in the game but most of the time we had it under control. It was a little bit like seeing how the game would go in the first 10 minutes, and then we had the control and played our game and we did well.
“It is a big win, an important win, and I think at this moment everybody in the world who supports Chelsea is happy.”
Ziyech’s record at Chelsea in 2020-21
A man snapped up by Frank Lampard has endured struggles for form and fitness during his first season in west London. Only 11 Premier League starts have made, and 25 appearances altogether.
Two goals and four assists have been contributed and there is no chance of Tuchel allowing a proven performer to rest on his laurels.
The Blues boss said of Ziyech after seeing him catch the eye against Atletico: “There were some easy ball losses from Hakim in the opponent’s half where he needs to improve, that his game gets a bit clearer and a bit more structured.
“That it’s also easier for the guys around him to feel what he’s doing, that he’s not a surprise. He can still adapt but it was a big step forward for him.
“Like I said, it was the choice to replace the workload from Mason with the workload from Hakim because this is something we can always rely on that he gives everything. He gives a huge physical input in games. I’m happy he was fast enough to follow the counter-attack and finish it.”
By Chris Burton
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