Having been withdrawn at half-time against Liverpool due to reaggravating an ankle injury which had forced him to miss the previous game at Arsenal, N’Golo Kante subsequently sat out two Chelsea matches before his half-time introduction at Tottenham yesterday.
That he would have an impact on the London derby was surely not in doubt, although included in it was a less-anticipated goal.
‘It wasn’t my most beautiful goal, but it was an important goal and it helped my team,’ said Kante in typically understated fashion about the shot which deflected in off Spurs defender Eric Dier and the woodwork.
‘Mateo [Kovacic] gave me the ball, I saw that I had time to shoot so I shot, it was a deflection, but I am happy that it touched the post and went in. I am happy that I helped the team.
‘I am feeling better,’ added the 30-year-old. ‘I think we managed the injury very well. I took time to come onto the pitch and I am happy to be back and I felt very good.’
Kante, who watched the first half from the bench, noted how Tottenham played with a lot of intensity and resistance in those 45 minutes, making it a tough and balanced contest until his plus goals from Thiago Silva and Toni Rudiger, and the overall improved display, ensured Chelsea kicked strongly for the finishing line.
‘We received good advice from the manager at half-time, who told us to win more duels and play with more force. We had a super second half,’ he continued.
‘Last year gave us a lot of confidence but we know nothing is going to be easy and we need to work hard and work together. It is important that we started well this season but there are many important games and we need to carry on.’