Ruben Loftus-Cheek has revealed the tactical decision of the Chelsea coaching staff that inspired him to net the last-gasp winner in their match against Cardiff on Sunday.
The Blues were staring at defeat in the final minutes of the game at Cardiff City Stadium with the Bluebird’s Victor Camarasa having given his side the lead early in the second half. Despite having put in another below-par performance, the west Londoners clawed their way back into the game as Cesar Azpilicueta scored a controversial equaliser in the 84th-minute before Loftus-Cheek grabbed the winner at the end of regulation time.
“It was crazy,” said the England international. “We all felt the goal coming. The momentum was on our side, we kept going and just before the end got it.”
The 23-year-old midfielder continued by revealing the tactical tweak Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri and club No2 Gianfranco Zola that eventually led to his goal that ensured maximum points for the Stamford Bridge outfit.
“The manager [Sarri] and [assistant boss] Zola told me to tell Ross [Barkley] to be more disciplined which would let me go and try and get into the box and have more freedom in the final third,” added Loftus-Cheek, who replaced Jorginho 64 minutes into the contest.
“I just tried to get into the box and it worked. It’s always been part of my game if there’s space in front of me. It creates difficulty for the back four.”
Loftus-Cheek also thanked the massive support he has gotten from the Chelsea fans ever since he made his senior debut with the west London side in 2014.
“It was my first last-ditch winner for Chelsea and it was amazing to celebrate with the fans. I’ve got a really good bond with the fans. They’ve been fantastic with me since I made my debut so I can only thank them,” added Loftus-Cheek.
The win over Cardiff sees Chelsea remain sixth in the Premier League standings, behind fifth-placed Arsenal via goal difference while also having played a game more, and a point behind Manchester United, who hold the fourth and final Champions League spot.
With just a couple of matches to go, the race for a top-four finish will certainly go down the wire and while Sarri’s side can still qualify for the top-club competition in Europe next term via the Europa League, Loftus-Cheek hopes the vital three points they earned at Cardiff will serve as a catalyst in their push for a top-four finish in the league, wherein they face successive home matches against Brighton and West Ham United in the next eight days.
“It’s a great three points away. We aim for the top four so any points we get to bring us closer to that is massive,” added Loftus-Cheek. “We need to take advantage of these home games now and hopefully get six points.”