Mateo Kovacic accepted some personal culpability for the goal that helped Hull City back into our FA Cup fourth-round tie on Saturday evening, although he insisted the more pressing focus was for this young team to develop a more clinical instinct in front of goal.
The Croatian played 90 minutes at the KCOM Stadium as the Blues secured an ultimately hard-fought 2-1 victory to book a place in the hat for tonight’s fifth round draw. Michy Batshuayi’s sixth-minute opener gave Frank Lampard’s side the perfect start but Kovacic felt the team should have extended that lead before the break.
‘It was a tough game, as we knew that it would be, but we need to score in the first half two more goals,’ the 25-year-old said afterwards. ‘That’s our problem in this moment but obviously we’re happy to go through.
‘It was because we didn’t score on time - we had some chances and we didn’t use them. In training, we are working on it but we are still a young team, a new team, and we need to improve a lot. We need to take our chances, which in this moment we are not doing great, but we have time to improve and I am sure we will do.’
Kovacic’s performance in a deeper midfield role drew praise from his manager but the player himself held his hands up for his part in the Hull goal that halved our advantage with 12 minutes remaining.
After Marcos Alonso had conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box for a questionable foul, Kamil Grosicki’s strike deflected off Kovacic in the wall and spun past Willy Caballero into the back of the net. Kovacic was criticised for breaking the structure of the wall with his jump and he was willing to accept fault.
‘They scored a goal from a free-kick, which was my mistake,’ he admitted. ‘I did a little bit of a strange jump and the ball touched me. Sometimes that can happen but the most important thing is we got the win and we are through.
‘The FA Cup is a great competition and we want to win it,' he added.