Chelsea cement place in top four to deal blow to Leeds’ survival hopes

With a 2-0 win at Elland Road on Wednesday, Chelsea confirmed their position in the Premier League’s top four and handed another major blow to Leeds United’s survival hopes.

Leeds conceded a goal and were relegated to ten men in the first 30 minutes, much like they did against Arsenal on Sunday, which placed them into the bottom three.

Mason Mount scored after only four minutes on this occasion. In the 24th minute, Daniel James was sent off for a horrific challenge on Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who was taken off the field just three days before the FA Cup final.

Leeds held out until halftime, but Christian Pulisic’s low strike into the corner of the net 10 minutes into the second half practically sealed the three points for Chelsea. After missing a couple of headed chances earlier in the game, Romelu Lukaku scored late to make it a horrible evening for Leeds fans.

Leeds manager Jesse Marsch said, “We talked about keeping it 0-0 as long as possible, but I thought we were ambitious, and the game was still there for us at 0-1 — the red card transforms the match.”

“The guys are gutted because we are not giving ourselves a chance. Our guys do everything they can, fight for each other, to keep ourselves in this league. We have to do everything we can to be ready for the next challenge on Sunday.”

The result will be eased by Chelsea’s anxieties of losing their grip on a top-four finish and a Champions League berth for next season. Thomas Tuchel’s team is still in third place, but they now have a four-point lead over Arsenal and an eight-point lead over Tottenham, although both teams have one more game to play on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Leeds remains in 18th place, level on points with Burnley but with a lower goal difference and two points behind Everton, who have three games remaining to Leeds’ two.

This season, Leeds had surrendered 34 league goals at home, the most in a single season in the Premier League since 1959-60.

Mount was left alone to solve the impasse, and no lessons had been learned. Leeds has not surrendered in a Premier League match before the fourth minute since December 2020.

James scythed Chelsea midfielder Kovacic down on the halfway line in a foolish moment and was given his marching orders, meaning he will miss the remainder of the season.

Lukaku, who has had a difficult season since joining Chelsea from Inter Milan, then came close to scoring his third goal in two games with a header that went wide.

Leeds posed no attacking danger in the first half, going the entire half without a shot on target, and continued to frustrate fans at Elland Road after the interval with more inaccurate passing.

When Mount flicked the ball towards Pulisic, who was left free to pick his location, Chelsea went up 2-0.

As angry Leeds fans went for the exits seven minutes ago, Lukaku took advantage of other sloppy defense from the hosts to make it 3-0.

“I was pleased with the overall performance quality,” Tuchel added. “When it was 11 against 11, we were really powerful, and you have an advantage after their dismissal.

“However, because Leeds will never stop fighting, the level of focus must be strong.

“We needed to adjust things after our recent run, and we needed to step up. We did it as a team, and we performed at a far greater level than in previous matches.”

This report was based on data from Reuters.