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It’s been a good week for Christian Pulisic. Three days after the 21-year-old American came off the bench to spark Chelsea’s 1-0 Champions League victory at Ajax, Pulisic celebrated his first English Premier League start since August by scoring his first goal for the Blues before completing his hat trick in Saturday’s 4-2 win at Burnley.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard rewarded Pulisic for a string of fine performances as a substitute by including him in his starting lineup for Saturday’s trip. Pulisic rewarded Lampard by producing the best game of his young career.
Pulisic’s first strike of the day came in the 21st minute after a surging run through the midfield. Once he got inside the box, he beat the defender with a step-over once and sent a left-footed shot between another defender’s legs and into the bottom right corner of Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope’s net:
The strike had been a long time coming for Pulisic, who didn’t appear in five consecutive matches earlier this season after moving from German side Borussia Dortmund over the summer for a Chelsea-record transfer fee of $73 million.
But while Pulisic had to wait 10 games across all competitions to notch his first goal for Chelsea, it took him a mere 24 minutes to get his second. Once again, it came after a brilliant solo run through the center of the park. This time he beat Pope with his right foot, although a slight deflection may have wrong-footed the home backstop:
Pulisic would complete his hat trick with by nodding home Mason Mount’s cross early in the second half — right foot, left foot, and header for a “perfect” hat trick, if you’re counting — becoming just the second American with a Premier League hattie after Clint Dempsey did it during his stay at long stay Fulham years ago:
Brazilian veteran Willian added a fourth for the visitors before Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil pulled two back for the Clarets inside the final five minutes to make the dying moments of the Chelsea’s seventh consecutive win surprisingly interesting.
Still, the story of the game was Pulisic. It was a hugely impressive performance from a player who had never scored more than one goal in a game since bursting on the scene with Dortmund at 17 almost four years ago. His recent run of form also comes after perhaps the most disappointing of his 34 appearances of with the USMNT, as he was subbed out of last week’s 2-0 CONCACAF Nations League loss in Canada after battling an illness in the days leading up to the match.
That seems like ancient history now. With three goals and two assists in his last three matches, Pulisic is at the height of his powers. He seems like a lock to keep his place for at least Chelsea’s next couple of games, although Lampard may be tempted to rest him for Wednesday’s League Cup tilt versus Manchester United in order to keep Pulisic fresh for next weekend’s Premier League contest against Watford and then the return match against Ajax on Nov. 5.
For after all the hand-wringing about Pulisic’s lack of playing time earlier this season, he’s suddenly on his way to being a lock for Lampard’s young side. What a difference a week makes.
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