Quick off the mark

Pedro got us off to a flyer against Dynamo Kiev in the first leg of our Europa League round of 16 tie, continuing the Spaniard’s habit of getting early goals, with nobody scoring a higher percentage of their strikes for Chelsea in the opening 20 minutes during the Premier League era.

Our number 11 opened the scoring in our 3-0 victory over Kiev, with the second leg of our Europa League last-16 tie taking place on Thursday, netting in the 17th minute after exchanging passes with Olivier Giroud before driving into the box – the Frenchman’s contribution including a crafty back-heel through his marker’s legs – and finishing confidently to set us on our way to a 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.

That puts us firmly in the driving seat going into tomorrow's second leg in Ukraine, and completes a curious statistic, as of the nine games Pedro has found the net in this season, we have ended up scoring a total of three in four of them, and have won every single one.

More telling though, is the fact that five of those nine goals have come inside the first 20 minutes of matches, proving the winger is a fast starter and ensuring we are on the front foot almost as soon as the game has begun.

Three of them have actually arrived less than 10 minutes from kick-off, in Premier League wins over Arsenal, Fulham and Newcastle United, and you can also add his opening goal in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth to the list. It may have come in the 72nd minute of the match, but the Spaniard had only been on the pitch for seven of them, having come off the bench to replace Willian and making an instant impact to break the deadlock.

That habit, and its significance, hasn’t gone unnoticed by the man himself, either, as highlighted when he spoke to the official Chelsea matchday programme earlier in the season.

‘When you go up early on the scoreboard, it becomes easier to play,’ said Pedro. ‘It changes the game totally, because then you play with a different mentality: more relaxed, more confident with the ball, so you can play between the lines and create chances.

‘Sometimes you have a little bit of luck to score early, but sometimes I think it’s the best moment because the other team maybe isn’t so focused on the game in the first minute, and that makes it easier for you to score.’

While his latest early effort came in the Europa League, it is in the Premier League that Pedro has really shown his love of an early goal, not just this season but right from his arrival at Stamford Bridge in 2015. During that time, fully 44 per cent of his 28 goals in the competition have come during the first 20 minutes of matches, way ahead of the next highest – a joint 35.3 per cent by Michael Essien and Gavin Peacock, who both got six of their 17 goals in that period.

Maybe it is as much about scoring at important times as it is about getting early goals, though, as of the four of Pedro’s which didn’t come in the first 20 minutes of a game, all but one of them arrived in the last 20 minutes.

All of which means one thing is for certain, when Pedro is on the pitch our opponents need to be switched on from the very first minute until the very last.

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