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.