Mateo Kovacic’s stunning volley against Liverpool has been chosen by supporters and a judging panel as the Premier League’s best goal in January.
The Croatian international sparked our dramatic fightback against the Reds at Stamford Bridge on 2 January. With Chelsea trailing by two goals shortly before half-time, Kovacic acted instinctively when goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher punched Marcos Alonso’s free-kick away from under the crossbar.
With flawless technique, our midfielder backpedalled to meet the dropping ball before unleashing a perfect looping volley, which cleared a crowded penalty area before bouncing in off the inside of the right-hand post.
That moment of magic proved an important one, as we took full advantage of the lift it provided inside the Bridge when Christian Pulisic equalised just before the break, to make sure we went in level at half-time.
After receiving the award, Kovacic said: 'I’m surprised because I didn’t think that my name would be there, but luckily I scored a really nice goal against Liverpool and I am very happy to receive such an amazing award.
'I was just thinking to avoid the counter-attack from Liverpool and just to try and shoot on target, which was very difficult because the ball was high in the air, and in the end I made a really good hit and luckily it went in.'
'I think it is my best goal as it was quite difficult, because as I said the ball was high in the air and it was a difficult shot. Also because it was a very important game against Liverpool in the Premier League, because we were 2-0 down and this goal gave us the boost to come back. So I would put it as the best goal in my career.
'During my whole career, this was my weak point, scoring goals and being dangerous in the opposition’s box, but this is something I am working on every day. I’m trying every day to improve that and I hope I can score even more goals.'
Kovacic’s strike was the Blues’ first goal of 2022 and his second in the Premier League this season, having only previously scored once in that competition during three years with Chelsea.
The 27-year-old was one of two Blues included among the eight-man shortlist for the January Premier League Goal of the Month award, along with Hakim Ziyech’s curling strike against Tottenham Hotspur, but it was Kovacic’s which came out on top after a public fan vote and panel of experts selected the winner.
He becomes the first Chelsea player to receive the award in nearly three years. The last time it went to SW6 was in April 2019, for Eden Hazard’s brilliant solo run to weave through four defenders before finishing with a low shot, to open the scoring against West Ham United.
The Belgian scored a brace – his last Premier League goals for the club – in that 2-0 win at the Bridge, an important victory in helping us secure a top-four finish in 2018/19.