Frank Lampard was delighted with the performance of the players who came into his team as he made nine changes for our match away at Sevilla, and none more so than the scorer of all four of our goals, Olivier Giroud.
Our head coach handed opportunities to the players in his squad who had been impressing him in training and pushing for a starting spot despite having to be patient for their playing time so far.
However, the transition of the players coming in proved seamless as we defeated Sevilla 4-0 in Spain to guarantee we would qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners.
Giroud obviously stood out as he scored four times, including a perfect hat-trick, and Lampard couldn’t have been happier for the model professional who remains an important part of the Chelsea squad both as a player and an example for others.
‘It was an amazing performance, to score four goals at this level, Champions League level, and against a really good opponent,’ said Lampard. ‘The individual quality of all of his goals – I know the last one was a penalty – but the team quality of the goals and his individual input were good to see. Four goals, rightly he gets a standing ovation as he comes off the pitch. I’m delighted for him.
‘He is the ultimate professional and I think he’s done that in his career and I think that’s why with Oli, you see his numbers with France, you see his numbers in the Champions League. He wasn’t always a regular when I got here but as soon as I came in I could feel the positivity of him as a player – how he wants to train, how he wants to affect people whether he starts or not.
‘He’s started a lot for us now and been very impactful in terms of how he was in restart and performances like tonight. So he’s great for the younger players, for other players when they’re not always playing or in the squad of 20-plus that we have, that happens of course. They keep training well and when they come in they perform like they did tonight. That was a really, really complete performance in the circumstances tonight.’
Giroud’s supporting cast also deserve plenty of credit for how we played in Spain
'When you play Oli you know his attributes. It’s important we get a lot of energy around him, people that can run off him, support him. He has the qualities to hold the ball up obviously, and quality with balls in the box like N’Golo puts in.
‘So I loved all those parts of us at the top end of the pitch, having made nine changes in a game, because as I said players are deserving to play, because I see them training well. Some players can get their heads down if they’re not playing lots of minutes and that’s always a worry when you make that level of changes.
‘But the focus and concentration of the team, in the moments you suffer which you always will do against a team like this. In the first half we dealt with things, we defended well, we were organised and some of our play was great. Whether it was our comfort on the ball or whether it was our counter-attacking at pace to cause a threat to them, there were so many big pluses from tonight and we need to continue with that.’
Plenty of players’ performances gave him difficult selection decisions to make for our next game against Leeds
‘That’s what you ask for I suppose when you make nine changes. I always say when I pick the team I try and pick the best team for the game and not to have favourites as such. You try and put the best team on paper. When players play as they did today they give you a great problem. It’s not a problem, that’s the wrong way to describe it, it’s just having a top player playing with quality, playing with dedication.’
The win continued our progression this season, even if bigger challenges lie ahead in the Champions League
‘I’m pleased with where we’re at. The levels will obviously go up in the next stage, which we’ve thankfully qualified for and we’ve topped the group at this early stage. So that’s great for our confidence but the levels will go up, the competition goes up, we found that out last year.
‘But we’re in a different place now. We are improving. I felt that and I’ll never be one to get carried away, but I knew at the start of the season, with the new players having some time to bed in, the younger players to mature. We’re seeing that in the younger players, the maturity of their levels.
‘The young players are reacting to competition and experienced players are affecting things and reacting to competition. Look at Oli today, but you could look around at other performances within that team, with Jorginho, Rudiger, Azpilicueta and others.
‘We have to keep improving because at this stage now things will get tougher game by game as we go through. What I’m pleased with is we are in a position where we are gaining confidence so that we feel we can take on any opponent. That’s the progression that we’re in, today was another step for us.’