Romelu Lukaku grabbed the headlines, but Antonio Rudiger starred in the show in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg.
Left in the cold during the final stages of Frank Lampard’s tenure, the German defender continued his extraordinary change of fortune under Thomas Tuchel on Tuesday evening.
Already established as a fan favorite at Stamford Bridge for his pivotal role in the Champions League success last season, Rudiger almost made it into folklore with a superb solo attempt against the Russian champions.
Chelsea running out of ideas, the center-back loaded his half into Zenit’s box and fired a fierce shot wide, displaying all the character and inspiration that makes him so popular in West London.
Not only that, the charismatic 28-year-old was a rock in the back, blocking Zenit’s best chance and coming to Chelsea’s rescue for the umpteenth time this calendar year.
It’s unclear why Lampard chose not to select Rudiger, but one thing is for sure – Tuchel absolutely loves him.
And speaking on the duty to comment for talkSPORT, former Blues midfielder Andy Townsend praised the Chelsea hero.
He said: “You can’t imagine a successful Chelsea side without him.
“He has these inspirational qualities, he gets people out of their seats as a center-half!” There aren’t many that do that.
“Every now and then he goes mad and tries to hit one, knocking him down onto King’s Road.
“But he’s just got that about him.” He wants it. He wants to shake things up for the team when things are a bit quiet.
“And defensively, very few players get the better of him. ”
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