"It was very, very hard because we lost the distances between the players and we were unable to cover the lost balls and press like a team, so we were really in trouble".
Even after just one game for Chelsea, it was a huge hint that the Croatian could see his long-term future being in London, under Maurizio Sarri, a coach he is clearly going to enjoy working under.
Eden Hazard was the difference-maker, the Belgian turning in a brilliant cameo display after being introduced in place of Willian in the 61 minute, but Sarri will have been equally pleased by the contributions of fellow substitute Mateo Kovacic, who came on for his Chelsea debut alongside Hazard around the hour mark. "Unfortunately we weren't able to take all our chances".
Out-of-form striker Alvaro Morata scored only his second league goal of 2018, fed by a through ball from Cesar Azpilicueta 11 minutes later.
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"If we want to defend by looking only at the ball we need to stay very compact and press in the other half".
Both sides tightened up after the break, but Sarri had the trump card when he introduced Hazard in the final quarter for a match-winning cameo. So I think we have to work and need to improve. Now I can attack the space, I can play one touch and go in the area for the crosses.
Morata's fourth goal in 2018 was another positive for Chelsea, but Sarri believes there is more to come from the Spain worldwide.
"I think that the players were very good in the second half".
"It is better to be on the pitch than on the bench, but the boys when they are playing did well, so if I'm on the pitch for 15 or 20 minutes, I do my best", he told BT Sport.