Christian Pulisic hit a hat-trick to inspire Chelsea’s impressive 4-2 win at Burnley as the US winger enjoyed his Premier League breakthrough moment on Saturday.
After going nine games without scoring for his new club, Pulisic tore Burnley to shreds at Turf Moor to notch the first treble of his career.
Pulisic had endured a slow start following his move from Borussia Dortmund as the heir to former Blues star Eden Hazard, but this virtuoso display suggested he could live up to the hype.
The £58 million ($74 million) signing, who spent the second half of last season with Dortmund after agreeing the Chelsea switch in January, had started only one match since the end of August and that was against Grimsby in the League Cup.
But Frank Lampard admitted this week the 21-year-old “deserved” a chance to start after he came off the bench to set up Michy Batshuayi’s winner against Ajax in the Champions League.
Pulisic replaced Callum Hudson-Odoi as Lampard made one change to the team that won in Amsterdam and he seized his chance, becoming the youngest Chelsea player to score a Premier League hat-trick.
Pulisic’s spotlight-stealing contribution was followed by a goal for Willian as Chelsea set a new club top-flight record of four consecutive away victories with three or more goals in each game.
Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil reduced the deficit for Burnley, but Chelsea are fourth in the league after a seventh successive win in all competitions.
Pulisic quickly illuminated a dank evening in Lancashire when his incisive run set up Mason Mount’s blocked shot.
It was a warning that Burnley failed to heed and Pulisic put Chelsea ahead in the 21st minute.
When Matt Lowton dithered in possession near the centre circle, Pulisic pounced to rob the Burnley defender as he stumbled to the turf.
– Eye-catching Pulisic –
Pulisic accelerated into the penalty area and kept James Tarkowski at bay with a step-over before drilling a left-foot shot across Burnley keeper Nick Pope and into the far corner.
It was a landmark moment for Pulisic as he became the first American to score for Chelsea in the Premier League.
Pulisic was a constant menace and he tested Pope with a snap-shot, but Burnley should have been level moments later.
Ben Mee’s header reached Ashley Barnes at the far post, only for the striker to nod wide of the empty net from virtually on the line.
Pulisic’s direct, pacy thrusts were proving impossible for Burnley to subdue and Tammy Abraham fired just wide after another eye-catching run from the American.
On the stroke of half-time, Pulisic doubled Chelsea’s lead with a fine solo effort.
Willian intercepted Tarkowski’s wayward pass and found Pulisic, who raced towards the Burnley area and drilled a low strike that took a deflection off Mee on its way past Pope.
Barnes and Rodriguez forced saves from Kepa Arrizabalaga after the interval.
But as they did against Ajax in midweek, Lampard’s men kept their composure before Pulisic delivered the knockout blow in the 56th minute.
Mount’s cross was cleared back to the midfielder and he curled over a cross that Pulisic met with a well-timed glancing header past Pope.
Chelsea were carving through the Burnley defence and Willian made it four in the 58th minute when the Brazilian took Abraham’s pass and slammed a low shot into the far corner.
Burnley suddenly came to life in the closing moments and Rodriguez struck with a 25-yard thunderbolt in the 86th minute.
McNeil got Burnley’s second with a deflected 89th minute effort, but that failed to take the gloss off Pulisic’s day to remember.