BURNLEY, England (Reuters) – Christian Pulisic failed to hit the ground running at Chelsea after finally joining the west London side from Borussia Dortmund but staked a strong claim for a first team spot with a magnificent performance in a 4-2 win at Burnley on Saturday.
The 21-year old U.S. international became the youngest Chelsea player to score a Premier League hat-trick, beating Tammy Abraham’s record which had stood for just 42 days.
Forward Pulisic, who stayed at Dortmund on loan after signing for Chelsea in January for 55 million pounds, has struggled to earn a start at Stamford Bridge ahead of Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Willian and Mason Mount.
When given the chance at Turf Moor by manager Frank Lampard, however, the American impressed with a dazzling display that was garnished by sublime close control and lethal finishing.
So excited was the youngster on his first league start since Aug. 31 to have bagged his first goals for Chelsea that he had to be reminded to take the match ball home.
“It’s my first professional hat-trick so I nearly forgot the match ball, luckily my team mates helped me out,” he said.
“I just want to be on the field, help the team and make an impact. I didn’t think it would be super easy. But I have come on a few times the past few weeks and was happy to start today, it was a special day.
“There are young guys in the team but we forget about that when we go out there. It’s a fun team to play with now and we just want to keep this run going.”
Pulisic, who has scored 14 goals in 34 senior appearances for the U.S., joined Dortmund at youth level in 2015 after netting 20 in 34 for his country’s Under-17 side.
He turned professional in 2016 and in his first three full seasons at the Bundesliga club, he quickly caught the eye with his electrifying pace and dribbling skills.
But a wealth of talented forwards at Chelsea meant Pulisic endured a tough start in London, with Lampard explaining that he had shunned the American for a reason after he played for the U.S. in their Gold Cup final defeat by Mexico in July.
“He had a week’s break this summer. He arrived for a big price and wanted to come straight back in but at the same time why am I going to throw him in?,” Lampard told Sky Sports.
“So I have to do it in the right way and get the best out of him. I’m delighted for him.”
If Pulisic’s performance on Saturday is anything to go by, he will leave Lampard spoilt for choice up front after steering Chelsea to their seventh successive win in all competitions.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris)