Hakim Ziyech, whose goal at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night gave Chelsea one foot in the quarter-finals, highlighted a growing understanding between last summer’s new signings as one of the reasons for optimism as the season reaches an important stage.
The player, who turns 28 on Friday, extended the aggregate lead over Atletico Madrid with a fine breakaway goal, added to by one from Emerson for an eventual 3-0 win over the two legs.
It was Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, like Ziyech new additions to the squad for this season, who played the passes that led to his first goal for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
‘It was an important goal and I had to wait a long time for it,’ he reflected after the game.
‘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 was good and the pass from Kai 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, who later played a pass for another Werner attack which ended with a save, added:
‘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 after 10 minutes 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.’
And happy is what Ziyech and his team-mates are to be in the draw for the next stages of the Champions League which takes place on Friday.
‘We are in a good way and we need to keep improving and play like this, and I am sure then it will be a good season,’ he said.
‘In Champions League you never know what can happen. The most important thing is we all know we give our best in all the rounds and every game we play, and that is the only thing we can do. In the end we will see but of course if you are still in it, you have to try to go forward and that is what we do.’