Gary Neville lauded the display of Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling after he inspired Mauricio Pochettino’s side to a deserved win over Premier League newcomers Luton Town.
The England star was in fine form as he opened the scoring just after the quarter-hour mark with a stunning solo effort and he doubled his tally and the Blues’ lead with just over 20 minutes left on the clock.
Sterling rounded off a fine individual performance when his cross took a slight deflection off a visitors defender before it was converted by Nicolas Jackson for his first Chelsea goal. The 28-year-old was rightly named as man of the match in the aftermath of the win and former England defender Neville believes his display was every bit as important as the three points he inspired for his side.
He told Sky Sports: “Raheem Sterling is in fantastic form and we have seen that in the first two games where he’s getting better and better.
“Tonight he’s gets the goals to go with it and it was really important because him and Jackson were the real threats on the pitch. They were always better than Luton, they always looked like they had more and that’s obvious because of the vast difference in budgets with the squad where each club has been.
“It’s an important victory for Chelsea, they had to win and they couldn’t leave Stamford Bridge in a game against Luton Town without the three points and they’ve got them but I think the big thing from the night was Raheem Sterling’s performance.”
Summer signing Jackson also received praise after his hardworking display was marked by his first goal for the club.
The Senegal forward was a lively presence alongside Sterling throughout an energetic display and he got off the mark when he met a cross from the former Manchester City winger and beat visitors goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.
Speaking after the game, former Stamford Bridge favourite Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink revealed his admiration for Jackson’s performance and urged the forward to ‘grow’ after getting off the mark in the blue shirt.
“He works so hard for the whole team,” explained the former Blues star.
“His stats are absolutely magnificent, the most sprints, the most runs, but you want him to end up in the box and make damage or give centre-halves problems in the box. Luckily, he did that, he was there at the right place, and he put it away. Hopefully he can grow from that and get more goals.”
Chelsea are back in action on Wednesday night when they host AFC Wimbledon in the second round of the Carabao Cup.