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Joe Cole backs Romelu Lukaku to be Champions League top goalscorer after Chelsea beat Zenit St Petersburg

Joe Cole has been impressed by Romelu Lukaku's impact at Chelsea
Joe Cole has been impressed by Romelu Lukaku’s impact at Chelsea (Pictures: Getty/BT Sport)

Joe Cole has backed Romelu Lukaku to be the top goalscorer in the Champions League this season after he opened his account during Chelsea’s narrow victory over Zenit St Petersburg.

Thomas Tuchel’s side began their Champions League defence with a 1-0 win over Russian outfit Zenit at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.

The Blues were far from at their best but £97.5m summer signing Lukaku secured the win when he headed home Cesar Azpilicueta’s inviting cross on 69 minutes.

Lukaku has looked sharp in Chelsea’s opening three Premier League fixtures – scoring three goals – and netted his first Champions League goal for the club who beat Manchester City in last season’s final four months ago.

Cole has been impressed by Lukaku’s impact at Stamford Bridge and backed the Belgium striker to lead the Champions League goalscoring charts this season after Chelsea made a winning start to their group campaign.

‘The comparisons with Didier Drogba are inevitable because of the positions they play,’ Cole told BT Sport. ‘But what I’ve seeing with him now is that leadership role that Drogba had as well.

‘You can see how the other players respond to him and his presence on the pitch. I think he’s looked at Didier and seen what a great player and a great leader he was.

‘Lukaku and Chelsea is a match made in heaven. He’s a serious package now. I think he’ll be the top goalscorer in the Champions League this season.’

Asked about the threat of Lewandoswki to Lukaku’s Golden Boot push after the Poland legend scored twice in Bayern Munich’s 3-0 victory over Barcelona, Cole responded: ‘Don’t worry about him!’

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand added: ‘Lukaku mentioned before that he got this efficiency and clinical edge through being in Italy because the chances are so few and far between out there.

‘It’s stingy defending, defenders are touch tight and very good tactically. He’s come back here and seemed totally different.

‘He’s matured a lot from his days at United. He left under a bit of a cloud but he’s got that mental toughness now and I’m really pleased for him.’

Lukaku has made a brilliant impact since returning to Stamford Bridge
Lukaku has made a brilliant impact since returning to Stamford Bridge (Picture: Getty)

Lukaku, meanwhile, insisted he was ‘really happy’ to fire Chelsea to another victory in west London, though refused to dream of lifting the Champions League after just one group-stage victory.

‘I’m really happy with the win,’ he said. ‘Today was a better performance than the weekend. We have to keep growing.

‘Me and Cesar [Azpilicueta] agree on certain type of movements on the pitch. I had to get my timing right but it was a beautiful ball by him. We knew it would be tough game but we controlled it really well.’

Asked about Chelsea’s chances of winning back-to-back Champions Leagues, Lukaku added: ‘One game at a time. Today is the first game. Now we have a difficult game at the weekend against Tottenham.’

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