KEY POINTS

  • Chelsea beat Zenit 1-0 in their UCL opener on Tuesday
  • It was Lukaku's maiden UCL appearance for Chelsea
  • He netted a 69th minute-winner at Stamford Bridge

Thomas Tuchel hailed Chelsea’s summer signing Romelu Lukaku after the Belgian forward netted the only goal in The Blues’ 1-0 win over Zenit in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Lukaku, who recently made a $135 million return to Stamford Bridge for a second spell with the club, has already netted four goals in as many appearances, across all competitions. During his first stint with Chelsea, which happened between 2011 and 2014, Lukaku had even failed to play a Champions League match with the London-based club.

Chelsea started their title defense with a great win over Zenit as Lukaku netted a 69th-minute winner at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

"It was an excellent header [from Lukaku for the goal], a well-timed cross by [Cesar] Azpilicueta. He was brave enough to step up and we had bodies in the box. That's why he [Lukaku] is here. He likes to score and he's decisive for us," Tuchel was quoted by BBC Sport, as saying in a post-match interview with BT Sport in London.

After firing Inter Milan to the Serie A title last season, Lukaku seems to have carried the same momentum with himself to Chelsea as the forward looks in great touch and his inclusion in the squad has only made The Blues more dangerous after they won the Champions League in 2020-21. 

"Me and Cesar agree on certain types of movements on the pitch. I had to get my timing right but it was a beautiful ball by him. We knew it would be a tough game but we controlled it really well," Lukaku told BT Sport after Chelsea’s 1-0 win Tuesday.

In the same interview, Lukaku was asked if he is aiming to help Chelsea defend their European title. To which, the former Everton forward replied, "I'm really happy with the win. Today was a better performance than the weekend [a 3-0 win over Aston Villa]. We have to keep growing. One game at a time. Today is the first game [in the Champions League]. Now we have a difficult game at the weekend against Tottenham."

Romelu Lukaku (L) scored his first Champions League goal for Chelsea Romelu Lukaku (L) scored his first Champions League goal for Chelsea Photo: AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

Chelsea are set to travel to North London to take on Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday. With three wins and a draw, Tuchel’s side is currently second in the points table.