Amsterdam: Chelsea manager Frank Lampard hailed his side’s 1-0 victory at Ajax in the Champions League as his best yet in charge of the Blues.
Lampard made a telling impact with his substitutions at the Johan Cruyff Arena as Christian Pulisic set up Michy Batshuayi to score the winner four minutes from time to propel Chelsea for a second Champions League victory in Group H after a fast and furious tussle.
After a difficult start to his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, Lampard has now masterminded six straight wins in all competitions.
“It is [the best win],” the former England midfielder told BT Sport. “I’m so happy, I knew how tough this game would be.
“To play and beat them and deserve to beat them means we are absolutely top all over the pitch. I was so, so proud of the performance.”
Victory in Amsterdam puts Chelsea level with last season’s Champions League semi-finalists on six points at the top of Group H and back on track to make the last 16 after a home defeat to Valencia on matchday one.
“It was very important after losing the first game against Valencia,” said Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
“We showed a great ability to control the game after the first 15-20 minutes.
“We had a lot of chances to win the game, we were brave, we pressed high and very happy to get a late goal from Michy.”
Batshuayi has had to be patient for his chance to shine under Lampard with Tammy Abraham’s fine form keeping the Belgian international on the sidelines.
Lampard introduced Batshuayi ahead of French international Olivier Giroud for the final 20 minutes and he had the desired effect by smashing in off the underside of the bar from Pulisic’s cut-back.
“The other two (Giroud and Batshuayi) stay patient, work hard, support the group and have talent. He’s waited for his moment and fully deserved it,” added Lampard.
The two youthful line-ups produced a high tempo encounter but there were few clear cut chances in a match where the defenders generally got the better of the strikers.
Ajax had the ball in the Chelsea net after 35 minutes but VAR ruled Quincy Promes’ effort was offside.
Promes was found to be marginally off as he slid home a deflected shot from Hakim Ziyech.
To add to the home side’s frustrations, midfielder Edson Alvarez shaved the outside of the post with a glancing header from a corner just before the hour mark.
But for the last 20 minutes it was the London club who always looked to potentially break the deadlock.
Batshuayi skied the ball over the Ajax goal from close range in the 73rd minute after Pulisic’s initial effort was blocked.
The American international saw another effort miss the target before he set up the winner.
His cross from the right caught the Ajax defenders moving out of position and allowed Batshuayi to slam the ball home.
The two clubs meet again on November 5 at Stamford Bridge in their next group outing.