Hakim Ziyech picked an opportune moment to score his first Premier League goal of the season and reflected afterwards on his pleasure at being able to have such a big influence at a crucial time.
The Moroccan came off the bench to score the winner on Wednesday night at Vicarage Road, helping his team-mates swat aside the persistent Hornets, who had earlier cancelled out Mason Mount’s opener with an effort from Emmanuel Dennis.
It was an action-packed contest in chilly Hertfordshire, Ziyech himself introduced on the hour mark for the injured Trevoh Chalobah as the Blues reverted back to 3-4-3 having played the opening quarter of an hour of the second half with a three-man central midfield.
His goal was superbly taken, swept in from Mount’s clever cutback, and proved to be the 28-year-old’s second winner of the season after the only strike of our 1-0 win in Malmo a month ago. It was also his first league goal since another 2-1 win on the road, our victory at Manchester City back in May, and afterwards Ziyech reflected on being the difference-maker once again.
‘This is one of the reasons why the coach brought me on so I have to be happy to score that decisive goal,’ he said.
‘It was a difficult game from the beginning, not easy from the first minute, and it was not our best day but the most important thing is we got three points. All the other stuff is better to forget.’
Ziyech admitted that everybody was ‘in shock’ after a medical emergency in the crowd meant the game was paused for half an hour, with medics from both clubs assisting the efforts to treat a spectator who had suffered a cardiac arrest. Thankfully, the Watford supporter left the ground for hospital in a stable condition and play resumed.
The forward was at this point still a substitute but soon got the call from Thomas Tuchel, entering proceedings to fire high into the net before working as a collective to defend doggedly in pursuit of the three points.
‘You can see from the beginning that even when we found it difficult, we never quit,’ he added.
‘We were always trying to find the spaces and we knew our moment would come. That’s also one of the strengths of this team because no matter if we play good or bad, we always find a way to score.
‘During a season, you know you can’t always play good but the most important thing when you don’t is to win the games and today was a good example of that. It’s always good to stay top of the table and I think we also deserve to stay there right now.’