Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech puts smile on Roman Abramovich's face amid memories of Hazard and Robben

James Robson
·3-min read

In front of the watching Roman Abramovich, Chelsea picked an ideal night to rediscover their scoring touch.

Their Russian owner took the opportunity to make a personal check on his most recent investments - and he will have every reason to believe it is money well spent. An impressive Champions League win against Krasnodar was inspired by the outstanding Hakim Ziyech.

Ziyech marked his first Chelsea start with a brilliant display on the right that brought to mind some of the wingers who have illuminated Abramovich’s reign - from Arjen Roben to Eden Hazard.

It will be a tall order for the Moroccan to emulate their successes, but he is in-keeping with those rich traditions: a flying forward who just loves to torment defenders. In Russia on Wednesday night, Frank Lampard hailed Ziyech’s “arrival” after he scored his first goal for the Blues since his £33.3million move from Ajax.

“It’s been frustrating for me and for him that his injury has meant he hasn’t been able to start,” said the Chelsea manager. “But from what I’ve seen in training so far, what I knew we were signing is a player of immense quality and personality to receive the ball, find assists, find goals.

“We saw a lot of glimpses of that and he will get better. We brought him in to do a job. Maybe people have forgotten a bit, because we signed him in January and he’s missed the start of the season. Tonight, he certainly showed that he’s here.”

It was the signing of Ziyech that signalled Abramovich’s latest recruitment drive. In total, he backed Lampard to the tune of more than £200m to turn Chelsea into Premier League title contenders - so his presence at the Stadium Krasnodar took on added significance.

He is a man who demands a return on his investments. Lampard is a club legend, yet the expectations on him are the same as any other manager hired and fired by Abramovich. With that money comes an obligation to bring success.

“I’m aware he was at the game, which always makes us happy,” said Lampard. “I always feel the support of the owner at the club, whether he is here at games or not. But to have him here is a nice bonus for myself and for the squad, and we are very respectful of him.

Roman Abramovich will have been pleased with his latest investments as he watched Chelsea beat Krasnodar (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Roman Abramovich will have been pleased with his latest investments as he watched Chelsea beat Krasnodar (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

“I didn’t manage to see him. Before the game I was in the dressing room and a couple of my staff members spoke to him, and by the time I came out for the warm-up he wasn’t around. But I’m very pleased we put on what I thought was a good performance.

“Four goals and a clean sheet in his home country, so I hope we made him happy.”

The trick now is to keep on making him happy - and this was a good start.

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