In pictures: Aston Villa v Chelsea
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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel asked match-winning star Romelu Lukaku one question before the striker rose from the substitutes’ bench to score and win a penalty against Aston Villa on Sunday. The Blues came from behind to win 3-1 at Villa Park and it was Lukaku’s introduction that swung the game in their favour.
Villa went ahead in the first half when Matt Targett’s cross deflected in via the unlucky Reece James.
Tuchel’s side were level after the impressive Callum Hudson-Odoi was bundled down in the box and Jorginho scored the resulting penalty.
However, Chelsea struggled to find much fluidity to their attacking play with Christian Pulisic playing in an unfamiliar No 9 role.
It prompted Tuchel to introduce Lukaku at half-time following a spell out of the team due to injury and a positive COVID-19 result.
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And the 28-year-old made an immediate impact. He headed in Hudson-Odoi’s cross just 10 minutes into the second half and then won a penalty following a storming solo run from the halfway line.
Ezri Konsa brought down the Belgian and Jorginho bagged his brace with his second spot-kick.
Afterwards, Tuchel revealed that he had asked Lukaku if he could manage 45 minutes on his return to action.
“To be honest, I asked him if he can play 45 minutes. I asked him and he said yes so we tried to play him for 45 minutes as a number nine,” the German told Sky Sports.
“There was no switch in our tactical formation. He does not need me to play in a game like this. He doesn’t need any speech for me. He has done nothing else in his whole life.
“He just needs to get fit and it is not so easy when you have a long injury, with a body like Rom and you catch Covid.
“When you read the match sheet and read the names you might think, yes, everyone is there and it is a top squad.
“It is true but when you look in details, you see that we are struggling and taking some huge risks.
“Today, Callum was forced to play 90 minutes straight after Covid due to injuries during the match and that’s the way it is.”
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Lukaku’s impact helped Chelsea kickstart their Premier League title challenge following a difficult run of form without the forward.
They had won just two of their previous five league matches and had struggled for goals.
Chelsea are currently third, level on 41 points with Liverpool who have a game in hand.
Manchester City lead the pair by six points following their 6-3 demolition of Leicester City.
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