LONDON • It was a magnificent seventh for Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and a glorious, if belated, start for Christian Pulisic.
Chelsea gave their rookie manager a seventh successive win in all competitions, with the 4-2 Premier League victory over Burnley on Saturday night taking them level on points with third-place Leicester.
The transformation of an ageing team has been propelled by homegrown youngsters, and a potentially tricky trip to Turf Moor became a sweet affair for 21-year-old Christian Pulisic.
His first Chelsea goals were a perfect hat-trick, in more ways than one, scored with his left foot, his right and his head, capping a stunning display, with Willian nabbing the fourth.
It also offered ample evidence of why the Blues paid £58 million (S$101.5 million) for him and brought the rare sound of the away fans chorusing: "USA, USA".
"I am absolutely delighted for him," Lampard said. "It was a fantastic match-winning appearance. He showed the full package.
"Our midfield combinations and movement were beautiful to watch. There were so many great things to admire.
WORTH THE WAIT
It was a fantastic match-winning appearance. He showed the full package.
FRANK LAMPARD, Chelsea manager, heaps praise on forward Christian Pulisic. The 21-year-old American arrived from Borussia Dortmund in the summer for £58 million (S$101.5 million).
"There has been a lot of talk around Christian for the big price tag. He is quite rightly a star in his own country.
"I know the back story and the pressure of the move. He had a week's break in the summer, so why am I going to throw him in?"
Pulisic has had to be patient but, after a frustrating two months, when the American has been a bit-part player - prior to Burnley, his only start since Aug 31 came in last month's 7-1 thrashing of Grimsby in the League Cup - this was an explosion of excellence.
He has been overshadowed by Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham but, on his first league start in two months, he upstaged them, taking the latter's record, which had stood for just 42 days, as Chelsea's youngest hat-trick scorer in the English top flight.
Rewarded for his catalytic cameo at Ajax, where he set up Michy Batshuayi's winner in their midweek Champions League tie, Pulisic made the most of his promotion.
The first treble of his senior career, however, came as such a surprise to the scorer that it slipped his mind to claim the match ball, but his teammates duly collected and signed it for him.
Thanking them for "helping me out", Pulisic said: "It's my first professional hat-trick so I nearly forgot.
"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."
While Burnley fought back late on through strikes by Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil, they wasted more meaningful opportunities earlier as Chelsea's quality told.
Clarets boss Sean Dyche was left to lament their inability to attract big names like Pulisic, admitting that "at the top end of the market, they are often more clinical".
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN