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Leeds 0 – 3 Chelsea

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Chelsea pushed 10-man Leeds further into the relegation mire as goals from Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku secured a 3-0 win for Thomas Tuchel’s men at Elland Road.

Leeds needed to avoid defeat in order to move out of the drop zone but, as in their 2-1 defeat by Arsenal on Sunday, they endured a nightmare start to the game and could not recover.

Mount curled home a superb opener after only four minutes and Leeds then had Daniel James sent off midway through the first half for a reckless tackle on Mateo Kovacic, who was unable to continue and is now an injury doubt for Saturday’s FA Cup final.

It was deja-vu for Jesse Marsch’s side, who lost Luke Ayling to a red card in similar circumstances having fallen behind at the Emirates Stadium, and their misery was compounded by precise finishes from Pulisic and Lukaku after the break as Chelsea strengthened their grip on third place and warmed up for Saturday’s Wembley showdown against Liverpool in style.

Leeds, meanwhile, also lost Jack Harrison to injury and must now prepare for their remaining Premier League games, against Brighton and Brentford, without the suspended James as well as Ayling.

Player ratings

Leeds:Meslier (5), Llorente (6), Struijk (6), Cooper (6), Koch (6), Phillips (6), Bate (5), Raphinha (5), Rodrigo (6), Harrison (6), James (3).

Subs: Firpo (6), Klich (6), Gelhardt (6).

Chelsea: Mendy (7), Chalobah (7), Christensen (7), Rudiger (7), James (8), Jorginho (8), Kovacic (6), Alonso (7), Mount (9), Lukaku (8), Pulisic (8).

Subs: Loftus-Cheek (7), Ziyech (7), Azpilicueta (6).

Man of the match: Mason Mount.

How Blues punished 10-man Leeds

Elland Road was a cauldron of noise as the players emerged from the tunnel ahead of kick-off but the home supporters were swiftly silenced when Mount beat Illan Meslier with a brilliant, first-time finish following a slick Chelsea move.

It was a familiar feeling for Leeds following Eddie Nketiah’s instant opener at the Emirates on Sunday and their evening went from bad to worse when James lunged in on Kovacic in midfield, prompting referee Anthony Taylor to immediately brandish the red card.

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Mason Mount is mobbed by his team-mates after opening the scoring

Leeds protested the decision, arguing James had won the ball, but the winger’s challenge was dangerous, his studs landing on Kovacic’s ankle, and VAR rightly upheld the decision before the Croat had to be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Chelsea had opportunities to extend their lead either side of the red card, with Diego Llorente clearing a Mount effort off the line and Lukaku heading narrowly wide from a James cross.

Team news

  • Liam Cooper returned for Leeds, while former Chelsea youngster Lewis Bate was also handed a start against his former club.
  • Romelu Lukaku kept his place in Chelsea’s starting line-up but N’Golo Kante missed out having failed a late fitness test.

But they had to wait until the second period to make the game safe. Lukaku, reinvigorated after his double in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Wolves at the weekend, headed over shortly after half-time but the second goal arrived soon afterwards.

The outstanding Mount was involved again, finding Pulisic with a deft flick, and the USA international then dispatched a low finish into the bottom corner, leaving Meslier with no chance.

Lukaku continued to threaten as Chelsea dominated the remainder of the game and, following a string of chances, including one low effort which bounced inches wide, he finally found the net with a high finish after delaying his shot from Hakim Ziyech’s pass.

Romelu Lukaku tangles with Pascal Struijk and Liam Cooper
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Romelu Lukaku tangles with Pascal Struijk and Liam Cooper

Leeds, hamstrung by an early red card for a second consecutive game, mustered little in response, failing to even register a shot on target, and the defeat, their third in a row, leaving them in a perilous position heading into their final two games.

For Chelsea, the picture looks more positive ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final as they opened up a four-point gap on fourth-placed Arsenal and went eight clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, all but confirming their place in next season’s Champions League.

Mount delivers man-of-the-match display

Alan Smith described Mason Mount’s performance as “poetry in motion” on co-commentary. “He’s such a classy player and he’s young enough to get better,” added the Sky Sports pundit.

That thought should be a tantalising one to Chelsea supporters. Mount’s goal was beautifully taken and the flick for Pulisic’s second was sublime too. He has now reached double figures for both goals and assists in the Premier League this season.

He is only the fifth Chelsea player to achieve that feat after Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard. It is esteemed company but Mount is there on merit.

He was outstanding at Elland Road – and not just because of his role in the first two goals. The 23-year-old was involved in nearly all of Chelsea’s best attacking moments and, even with 11 men on the field, Leeds simply could not live with him.

Mount: I love playing at Elland Road!

Mason Mount told Sky Sports: “It was a fun one. I do love playing here, it’s obviously a stadium with a lot of history. The fans are brilliant. They don’t like us too much, so it was a good atmosphere! But as soon as we got the goal we kind of quietened the stadium down a bit.

“I was reading the programme before the game and it said, ‘let’s make the stadium as hard to play in as possible’, or something like that, so when you come here you know it’s going to be tough. But we loved it.

“It was a massive game for both teams tonight. We needed the win after a few poor results.”

Marsch: We can’t feel sorry for ourselves

Leeds boss Jesse Marsch told Sky Sports: “It was similar to the Arsenal match, where we don’t really even give ourselves a chance to get going, but the guys fought hard, they never stopped, they ran, tried to play and competed for each other.

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Jesse Marsch urged Leeds to switch their focus to the next two games

“Obviously, we’re disappointed, but right now, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. If we get stuck thinking negative things and worrying about why things happened or what happened, then we won’t prepare ourselves for Sunday, so that has to be our total focus.”

On James’ red card, he added: “I think he was aggressive and thought he could win a ball in the middle there, but wound up being a bit over-zealous.

“Now we lose Dan for the rest of the season, so it obviously hurts but that’s where we are now and we have to stick together and be ready for the next challenge.”

Tuchel: Excellent Chelsea deserved win

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel told Sky Sports: “We needed a performance like that and it was the foundation for the result. We deserved to win and that’s the best message because it’s a tough place to play.

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Thomas Tuchel lauded his side’s “excellent” performance against Leeds

“We were excellent right from the start and kept the focus and intensity high when we were one man up and that’s why we deserved to win.

“We talked and we cleared the air after that late equaliser from Wolverhampton. We knew we had brought ourselves into pressure, results-wise, and we knew what was waiting, but we also had a lot of reason to trust ourselves and we were at our very best level in these circumstances.

“The players delivered what we demanded of them so full credit to them.”

Tuchel: Kovacic injury very bad news

Tuchel added that Mateo Kovacic is a doubt for the FA Cup final after injuring the same ankle he hurt recently when he was fouled by Dan James.

“I only saw [the tackle] from a distance on the iPad because I was not watching the match at that very second, but if I see Kova’s foot right now, then there is no doubt it should be a red card,” he said.

“It’s the same ankle again. It’s very, very painful and it’s very bad news on a nice evening.”

What’s next?

Leeds are back in Premier League action on Sunday afternoon as they welcome Brighton to Elland Road for a 2pm kick-off.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will seek to claim silverware when they take on Liverpool in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday before resuming their Premier League campaign at home to Leicester on Thursday May 18.

Leeds’ remaining fixtures

May 15 – Brighton (h) Premier League

May 22 – Brentford (a) Premier League

Chelsea’s remaining fixtures

May 14 – Liverpool (Wembley) FA Cup final

May 19 – Leicester (h) Premier League

May 22 – Watford (h) Premier League

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