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Pulisic confirms Lampard’s half-time message inspired Chelsea’s comeback against Ajax


Chelsea FC v AFC Ajax: Group H - UEFA Champions League Photo by Federico Guerra Moran/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s not easy to make rational sense of Chelsea’s 4-4 draw against Ajax on Tuesday, and in the immediate aftermath, most of us just focused on the positive emotion of it all. But for head coach Frank Lampard, it was also vindication for the belief he tried to inject into his team at half-time, when Chelsea were losing 3-1 and the prospect of having to face just 9 men was as unlikely as such circumstances should be.

In his post-match interview, Lampard revealed he told the boys that they will come back to at least draw, if not win the game.

“I said to the lads at half-time – I’m not trying to say how clever I am – but I said, ‘I think we’re going to draw this at least 3-3, could be 4-4, could be 4-3 and we could win it. It’s up to us.’

“Because if we got rid of those crazy moments that gave them the goals – some misfortune, some on us – I just felt we were so in the game. We were just short of that last pass in the final third, Christian Pulisic looked so dangerous, Willian looked dangerous and I just thought we’d build momentum and fortunately we did.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Metro

One of those mentioned there specifically, Christian Pulisic, confirmed his boss’s half-time message. While Chelsea received a big helping hand from Ajax’s own self-destruction, not to mention the quick draw of referee Gianluca Rocchi, Lampard’s inspirational words were still key to the eventual comeback.

“Of course it comes from the manager. He gives us confidence and he’s the one who pushes us and tells us to do it. It shows the fight of all the team.

“What did he say at half time? That it was just silly goals on our part, silly defensive mistakes, but we’re going to make chances and we’re going to win this game.

“We said we were never going to give up, we can go out and win this game. We showed a lot of fight and came back.”

Of course, as heartening as all that was, Chelsea’s inability to find a winner — or at least one that wasn’t ruled out by VAR thanks to the silly Champions League handball rule interpretation — left a sour taste in the mouth as well.

But there were still plenty of positives to take from the result, certainly psychologically in addition to the lessons that we must keep trying to learn about concentrating in defense and finishing chances in attack.

“It’s kind of mixed after a game like that, being down like that, you’d think a draw would be an unbelievable result. But it’s almost that feeling where we wanted more. We scored a winner and it was taken back, so it was tough.

“It shows just how much fight this team has, even being down 3-1 and then it went to 4-1, it’s crazy. To think we were still able to come back says a lot about our team. People can write us off but we’re not really too worried about what’s going on on the outside. We know what we’re capable of and we’re just going to keep going.”

-Christian Pulisic; source: Express

Chelsea could not rise to the level required after spending all the emotion on Azpilicueta’s chalked-off winner. Win in Valencia in three weeks, and that won’t matter.

But first, Crystal Palace this weekend, and a chance to carry the emotion through and keep the good vibes going.

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