Jorginho’s stoppage-time penalty ensured Chelsea avoided conceding further ground in the Premier League title race with a dramatic victory over Leeds United at Stamford Bridge.
Teenager Joe Gelhardt, brought on as an 81st-minute substitute, appeared to have earned a late point for Leeds with his first touch – the 19-year-old sliding in to send Tyler Roberts’ low cross past Edouard Mendy.
In a hugely entertaining encounter featuring three converted penalties, Raphinha put the visitors ahead with the game’s first spot-kick after 28 minutes following Marcos Alonso’s mistimed challenge on Daniel James.
But Chelsea, knocked off top spot in the table following their 3-2 defeat by West Ham last weekend, fought back as Mason Mount met Alonso’s low cross with a first-time finish to restore parity before the interval.
Thomas Tuchel’s hosts were awarded a penalty of their own before the hour mark after referee Chris Kavanagh reviewed Raphinha’s sliding challenge on Antonio Rudiger, allowing Jorginho to complete the turnaround.
Despite Gelhardt’s heroics, it was Jorginho who had the final say with another confident penalty after Mateusz Klich brought down Rudiger to deliver a victory that ensures third-placed Chelsea remain two points behind leaders Manchester City.
Champions City beat Wolves 1-0 earlier on Saturday, while Liverpool, in second, defeated Aston Villa by the same scoreline.
Defensive problems continue to trouble Chelsea
Such is the unforgiving nature of this season’s title race, defeat by West Ham was enough to cost Chelsea two places as they continue to wrestle with Manchester City and Liverpool in an already enthralling battle at the top.
With seven minutes remaining, it appeared the European champions would lose further ground at the beginning of a relentless Christmas schedule, yet despite letting another lead slip they remain within striking distance with this hard-fought win.
Tuchel admitted that, given the high standards expected at Stamford Bridge, his side’s recent form of one win in four matches in all competitions has looked “kind of horrible” – adding his side had been “trying to escape with 90% effort and intensity” in recent matches.
After a promising start, in which Mason Mount went close and Reece James attempted to catch out goalkeeper Illan Meslier with a disguised free-kick, the Blues were initially unable to make their early superiority count against a depleted Leeds.
Wing-back James displayed his versatility as he was given permission to roam around a midfield missing Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante, while another obvious positive for Tuchel was Mount’s continued run of form in front of goal as the England midfielder scored for a third successive league game.
But it is at the back where Chelsea’s concern remain. They have conceded eight goals across their last three games following Wednesday’s 3-3 Champions League draw with Zenit.
And while Alonso atoned for his penalty error by dispossessing Stuart Dallas to assist Mount, there is much work for Tuchel to do if his side are to sustain their title challenge.
More to follow.
- 28AzpilicuetaSubstituted forChristensenat 74′minutes
- 6Thiago Silva
- 24JamesBooked at 34mins
- 3AlonsoSubstituted forLukakuat 87′minutes
- 19MountBooked at 60mins
- 11WernerSubstituted forHudson-Odoiat 74′minutes
- 1MeslierBooked at 90mins
- 14LlorenteBooked at 90mins
- 3FirpoBooked at 42mins
- 46ShackletonBooked at 53minsSubstituted forKlichat 59′minutesBooked at 69mins
- 10RaphinhaSubstituted forGelhardtat 82′minutes
- 20JamesSubstituted forCresswellat 87′minutes
Match ends, Chelsea 3, Leeds United 2.
Second Half ends, Chelsea 3, Leeds United 2.
Diego Llorente (Leeds United) is shown the yellow card.
Goal! Chelsea 3, Leeds United 2. Jorginho (Chelsea) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Illan Meslier (Leeds United) is shown the yellow card.
VAR Decision: Penalty Chelsea.
Penalty Chelsea. Antonio Rüdiger draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Mateusz Klich (Leeds United) after a foul in the penalty area.
Offside, Chelsea. Andreas Christensen tries a through ball, but Kai Havertz is caught offside.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Adam Forshaw (Leeds United).
Foul by Andreas Christensen (Chelsea).
Tyler Roberts (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Kai Havertz (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Adam Forshaw (Leeds United).
Substitution, Leeds United. Charlie Cresswell replaces Daniel James.
Substitution, Chelsea. Romelu Lukaku replaces Marcos Alonso.
Offside, Leeds United. Jack Harrison tries a through ball, but Tyler Roberts is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Mateusz Klich (Leeds United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Joe Gelhardt.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
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