Christian Pulisic’s strong form continued with another goal to help us through to the Champions League quarter-finals and afterwards the forward reflected on the importance of his strike in helping to settle the tie at a decisive time.
The American struck in stoppage time at the end of the first half with practically the last kick before the interval, cancelling out Burak Yilmaz’s penalty. It was his third goal in the past four starts for the Blues and followed his effort in the first leg at Stamford Bridge three weeks previously.
Combined with Cesar Azpilicueta’s close-range finish after the break, it ensured Thomas Tuchel’s men registered a win on the night in northern France and advance into Friday’s last-eight draw as the defence of our continental crown continues.
Yet faced with a raucous home crowd and falling a goal behind, serious questions were asked of the visitors for long periods of the game, which is why Pulisic feels the timing of his tidy strike from a narrow angle was so crucial.
‘It was a really good goal we got right before half-time to calm us down a bit and in the end we should be proud,’ he said.
‘It’s not easy to get a result here and we did that. Going into half-time 1-0 down would have been tough so it was definitely helpful.’
The 23-year-old thanked Jorginho for ‘an amazing pass’ to assist his goal but also conceded that the Blues didn’t have things all their own way at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium.
‘We know they’re a good team and coming here is never easy,’ he continued. ‘In the first half they were strong and there was a good atmosphere in the stadium. They put a lot of pressure on us right away.
‘They gave us a lot of trouble and then with the handball penalty they were back in the game. We made a few changes and were able to calm the game down a bit with some possession but the goal we scored before half-time was really important because it restored confidence.’
Reaching the quarter-finals naturally brings plenty excitement about whether Chelsea might return to France for the Paris final at the end of the campaign but Pulisic is adamant that there is too much on the immediate agenda to think that far ahead just yet.
‘We’re in the quarter-finals - no matter how we did it, it’s done,’ he added. ‘We’re in the top eight teams and that’s exactly where we want to be.
‘There are so many different competitions, so many games and a lot to play for so we’re just going to keep pushing from here.’