Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher has claimed in his post-match interview with BT Sport he couldn’t believe it when Mateo Kovacic opened the scoring last night.
The pair both started in a three-man midfield last night, as new manager Graham Potter again altered his team and formation.
The Blues played some brilliant football, particularly in the first half, and Kovacic and Gallagher were essential to most of that.
Kovacic certainly repaid the faith his new manager has shown in him since coming in, particularly in this competition.
The boss claimed after the game that both Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were struggling with niggles from a lot of minutes played in quickfire high intensity games.
The Croatian’s dominant first half was summed up by a sensational goal after 23 minutes, a rare commodity for the 28-year-old.
Gallagher amazed by Kovacic
The strike caught a lot of people by surprise, none more so than teammate Gallagher, who was in disbelief at what had been pulled out.
He said: “A great finish, I couldn’t believe it. To get that first goal was important, it gave us confidence in the game.”
The Blues used the momentum created in the first half to come back from being pegged back just four minutes into the second half.
Kai Havertz produced an equally special strike with 26 minutes to play to help Chelsea qualify as group winners for the knockout stage of the Champions League.
The victory will allow the likes of Kovacic a well-deserved rest next week when Dinamo Zagreb come to town.
The already secured status at the top of Group E means they will be able to feature some of the players who are yet to have the proper chance to prove themselves to Potter.
This includes Denis Zakaria, who could feature ahead of the Croatian for his first appearance for the club.