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Havertz issues perfect response to criticism with reminder of star talent

K

ai Havertz was increasingly seeing fans get on his back after a run of poor displays but he responded in the best possible way against RB Salzburg.

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

The 23-year-old looked every bit the £70million player Chelsea expect him to be at that moment, helping his side to win away to a team who were unbeaten in 40 consecutive home matches.

However, Graham Potter hasn’t utilised his Germany international as an automatic starter since joining the club and his few appearances since his arrival had been disappointing.

Despite scoring at home to Wolves a few weeks ago, he was subsequently hauled off at half-time in a poor display away at Aston Villa.

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

/ PA

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

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

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

Those attributes of tidy play, his ability to battle and his desire to help the team are rarely in question – but he knows himself that it sometimes gets in the way of his ability to score goals.

He is too often drawn away from areas where he can hurt the opposition but against Salzburg, he was finding space time and again.

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

Havertz still has the talent to become a star in one of the world’s most powerful teams but he needs to bring a consistent goal threat to the rest of his outstanding game.

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