Pulisic, Giroud score as Chelsea rallies to beat Villa 2-1

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Chelsea's Christian Pulisic celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at the Villa Park stadium in Birmingham, England, Sunday, June 21, 2020. (Molly Darlington/Pool via AP)

BIRMINGHAM – Healthy enough to make his first appearance in nearly six months, Christian Pulisic sparked Chelsea to a comeback victory.

The 21-year-old American returned from an adductor muscle injury and scored the tying goal five minutes after entering in the second half. Olivier Giroud put Chelsea ahead two minutes later in a 2-1 win over Aston Villa 2-1 on Sunday that strengthened the Blues' hold on fourth place in the Premier League.

Pulisic entered in the 55th minute for his first match since Jan. 1. Chelsea switched flanks following a throw-in, and César Azpilicueta crossed back as Pulisic sprinted in and redirected the ball in off the crossbar from 3 meters (yards).

“I don't think I actually hit it perfect with my left,” Pulisic said. “Luckily I got enough on it just to steer it it on target.”

Pulisic had returned to his home in Hershey, Pennsylvania, during part of the pandemic-caused break between mid-March and last week.

“He will start games for us, of course, and I think he’s going to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in but going forward,” Lampard said after his 100th senior game as a manager.

“He was hungry. I know that and I felt for him, as I felt for the players with long-term injuries," Lampard said. "The ability he’s got to arrive in the box, it’s a big thing. I’ve spoken about it with him all season.”

Pulisic has six league goals and seven overall in his first season since joining Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund.