Kai Havertz launches perfect response to Chelsea critics with timely reminder of star talent at Salzburg

K

ai Havertz was seeing more and more fans cringe after a string of poor performances, but he responded in the best possible way against RB Salzburg.

A perfect touch, turn and left-footed shot saw the ball fly past an in-form Philipp Kohn to crash into the crossbar before nestling into his net in the second half.

The 23-year-old looked very much like the £70m player Chelsea were expecting of him at the time, helping his side win against a side that were unbeaten in 40 consecutive home matches.

However, Graham Potter has not used his Germany international as an automatic starter since joining the club and his few appearances since joining have been disappointing.

Although he scored at home against Wolves a few weeks ago, he was then sent off at half-time after a poor performance at Aston Villa.

Kai Havertz sealed Chelsea’s progress in the Champions League with a superb strike in Salzburg

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He then faced heavy criticism for his lack of goal threat on his next start in a 0-0 draw at Brentford. He needed an answer in Austria and started the game wasting two early chances created by probable man of the match Conor Gallagher.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was even more wasteful during his 75 minutes on the pitch, with the Blues scoring from a superb strike from Mateo Kovacic midway through the first half.

Havertz worked hard throughout, creating for others, regaining possession and covering the ground against the youngest team in the Champions League.

These attributes of orderly play, his ability to fight and his desire to help the team are rarely questioned – but he knows himself that it sometimes hinders his ability to score goals.

Too often he is away from areas where he can hurt the opposition, but against Salzburg he found space time and time again.

That 64th-minute moment of skill after Christian Pulisic’s square ball was a reminder of his value to those watching, his manager and even himself.

Havertz still has the talent to become a star in one of the most powerful teams in the world, but he must provide a constant goal threat for the rest of his outstanding game.


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