The 22-year-old headed in his team’s first after 17 minutes before adding a second from the penalty spot after the break, as the hosts weathered the loss of captain Conor Gallagher to a red card in the 45th minute to claim a 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge.
It was a first win in six attempts in the Premier League against Roberto De Zerbi’s side and saw the Argentina international, who signed from Benfica for a then British record £107million in January, finally break his scoring duck in the league on his 31st appearance.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 3, 2023
His influence has grown at the heart of Chelsea’s midfield, particularly since the arrival of Moises Caicedo in August, which has allowed him to take up more advanced positions.
Pochettino, who also saw defender Levi Colwill score his first for the club, predicted Fernandez’s first league goals will only accelerate his progress.
“It’s important that different players can score,” said the manager. “It was Enzo’s first and second in the Premier League, it’s important to build confidence.
“Players sometimes need one season, six months, 10 months to start to show their real quality. Why would it be different at Chelsea?
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 4, 2023
“So happy that different players can score. It’s a good thing for the team.”
The win was just Chelsea’s second at home in the league this season and their fourth of 2023, lifting them into the top half of the table following the previous weekend’s 4-1 rout by Newcastle.
The game finished amidst confusion as Brighton were awarded a penalty in the ninth minute of stoppage time by referee Craig Pawson after the ball struck Colwill in the face inside the box.
A pitch-side VAR check – the game’s second after Mykhailo Mudryk had won a spot-kick following a review – overturned the decision, but emotions boiled over with players of both sides squaring up to each other as the final whilst went.
“Football is emotional, no?” said Pochettino. “It’s normal, our reaction and the reaction from Brighton.
“You are playing for a lot of things. It’s really important there three points for us (or) one point for Brighton.
“There’s massive confusion at the end of the game. It was exciting, people were upset. That’s what happened when we were in the middle all together.
“You create this type of relationship where it becomes massive confusion.”