Willian’s free-kick may have capped a splendid personal display and given Chelsea a priceless win against Dynamo Kyiv, but the Brazilian played down his role when he spoke to UEFA.com.
The only time he smiled during the interview was when it was suggested his right boot was covered in magic dust.
The remainder of the time Willian’s face portrayed only serious intent and a determination to improve. It is impossible to think of another player less likely to get carried away by his success despite the importance of his winner for Chelsea against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday.
“I need to keep working hard and trying to improve my game,” the Brazilian repeated more than once. It is a shuddering thought for goalkeepers everywhere who have been left embarrassed by the quality of Willian’s set-piece delivery and the defenders who have found him an elusive and deadly opponent this season.
Willian’s all-round performance and cross that gave Chelsea a first-half lead when Aleksandar Dragovic headed into his own net had already marked him down for key player honours in the crucial Group G fixture with Dynamo Kyiv. But his best, after Dragovic had dramatically brought the scores level with a thumping strike that punished Asmir Begović’s failure to gather a corner, was saved to last.
With seven minutes remaining, a free-kick just outside the area was Willian’s invitation to hoist the Blues above Dynamo and into second place in the section. It was a test of nerve and skill but up and over the wall it soared before the ball entered the net beyond Olexandr Shovkovskiy’s flailing right hand.
It was a superb free-kick and it was far from the first time that the quick-heeled midfielder had profited from the manoeuvre since the start of the season. Who knows, it may just signal an upturn in Chelsea’s fortunes and provide some respite for under-pressure manager José Mourinho.
“I’m very happy,” Willian told UEFA.com even though his deadpan features hardly conveyed that fact. “I have been working on my free-kicks a lot and this was one of the best I have ever taken. I have to continue working hard. Dynamo scored a goal but we kept playing and got a second goal to win the game. That was good and we have to build on that.”
With seven points – two more than Dynamo but three adrift of Porto – Chelsea are well placed to continue their quest for a second UEFA Champions League crown beyond the new year. “We have been in a difficult moment but the results will come now,” Willian forecast. “The mood in the dressing room is always very strong and positive.”