After Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg, Thomas Tuchel acknowledged his winning-goalscorer Romelu Lukaku had been given very little to feed off during the game, but highlighted how beneficial it is for the team as a whole to know they have a player up front who can still make the difference with a minimal amount of service.
The Belgian striker was again the toast of Stamford Bridge after his 69th-minute header secured three Champions League group stage points, and his name dominated the post-match discussion.
‘I'm happy in general with the performance,’ said Tuchel soon after the final whistle.
‘It was a tough match against a strong opponent and it was tough for us in the first half to find little gaps to accelerate the game and to be dangerous in the box and to create touches in the box.
‘But we played with high intensity, we had many ball recoveries. We had to be very, very focused and aware in defence because Zenit have a lot of individual quality upfront, and we did all that.
‘In the second half we found it a bit easier to find spaces between the lines to accelerate, to create chances, half-chances and deliveries.’
One of those deliveries was the ball in from Cesar Azpilicueta which Lukaku headed home for the winner.
‘It was a very, very good and dangerous ball,’ praised Tuchel, ‘because it comes from a difficult position to defend around the box. The target was the second post with Romelu and Kai was also there.
‘The performance for Romelu was not easy, we did not create many chances for him, we did not create many deliveries, but he is the type of guy who does not lose confidence and belief, and that's why he's here and that makes him a world-class striker.
‘You don't find many strikers of that quality and the guys who really score regularly for their teams are so, so important because the goal changes the whole momentum of the match. It gives the whole team a lot of belief to know that maybe one half-chance or one chance is enough to make him score.
‘And it's more than just talent that he brings because he has the belief, he takes pressure off other guys’ shoulders, he has the personality not to be impatient or to lose confidence.’
Tuchel went further on the subject of Lukaku’s influence away from the pitch.
‘He was the type of guy that we were missing in our team, the profile, but not only for the talent but also for his personality. He is a super humble guy, he loves football, he loves to train. He is such a good communicator in the dressing room, he is open to everybody and that creates a certain atmosphere and energy around him and within the team.
‘The atmosphere and the spirit last year took us very, very far and it is very important that we have it again, and we have it with Romelu because he loves Chelsea and knows what this club is all about.
‘It gives us belief and gives everybody around him a lot of confidence when strikers score and are decisive. There is no talk and no video of any coach in the world that can have the same impact.’