Mauricio Pochettino said Chelsea will approach the rest of the season confident in the knowledge they can compete with the best teams after dramatically drawing 4-4 with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
Cole Palmer struck a penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time to deny the club with whom he won the Premier League title in May and snatch a sensational point at the death in west London.
City thought they had won it via Rodri’s deflected strike four minutes from the end, his effort spinning into the goal past the wrongfooted Robert Sanchez off Thiago Silva’s outstretched foot.
Earlier, the lead had been passed back and forth on a topsy-turvy afternoon, Erling Haaland opening the scoring from the spot after 25 minutes before Silva nodded his team level from a corner.
Raheem Sterling scored against his old team to give Chelsea the lead from Josko Gvardiol’s mistake, but they could not hold on until half-time as Manuel Akanji was afforded space from a corner routine to equalise on the stroke of the interval.
Haaland struck again to make it 3-2 moments after the restart, Nicolas Jackson thumped home on the rebound when Ederson failed to hold on to Conor Gallagher’s drive from outside the box for 3-3, before the late drama for which a stunning match will be best remembered.
And Pochettino predicted the performance and the result would have a transformational effect on his young side as they continue their recovery from an indifferent start to his tenure.
“I’m very proud,” he said. “I’m so happy. The players deserve credit, the performance this evening was amazing, against for me the best team in the world.
“Many circumstances that happened during the game that made me proud, the way that we managed the game was really, really good.
“There are things to improve, but it’s the process. When you want to build a project from zero, this type of thing is really good.
“These types of experiences will improve a lot out play and our team. But now we need to translate in the future.
“I am so tired, after Monday (the 4-1 win against Tottenham) and Sunday. I don’t want to be wrong when I assess, but if I go back, we were very disappointed (in earlier) results but this is a process. It’s a young team, you feel the pressure to win.
“This type of performance will build belief and confidence. (But) we have to have patience in some games.”
Having struggled for goals during August and September, Chelsea have now netted eight times in their last two matches following Monday’s frenetic win at Spurs.
It is the third time this season they have scored four times in a league game. By contrast, the team did not manage to do so throughout the whole of the last campaign.
“It showed the character, showed the mentality, showed that we can go for the goal against a team like Man City and to dominate and have the capacity to create chances,” said Pochettino. “I think it’s really important today to build our confidence and to believe more in the way we are working.
“We’re still far away. But that’s the process. It’s a different moment, this period. But of course this type of performance we need to use for the future.
“We go step by step, maybe we can jump two steps. But caution. Today was a massive motivation.”
City boss Pep Guardiola reflected on a fair result as his team moved a point clear of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table.
“It was a good advert and entertaining game for the Premier League and both teams wanted to win,” he said. “I wouldn’t have expected differently. Chelsea have a fantastic team and players.
“We had momentum, two or three transitions one-on-one which we could not finish. But the game was in the moment at the end.
“A tight game, but a fair result. I congratulate the team, we go into the break and we qualify for the Champions League and we come back (after international break) and go.”