Chelsea break duck against Leeds but have VAR to thank
Jorginho's pinpoint penalty kicks gives Chelsea all three points. Image by Chris Lee via Getty Images 

Chelsea endured a torrid test against Leeds United this afternoon and were lucky to come away from Stamford Bridge with the three points, something they had failed to do in their last two home games. 

Though they started the first half brightly, pressing the ball and finding teammates in space,  Chelsea failed to test Goalkeeper Illan Meslier and the delivery into the final third let their play down.

Spot of Bother:

On 28 minutes, halfway through the first half and a rash sliding challenge from Marcos Alonso to bring down Daniel James saw the game's first penalty awarded by VAR and gave Leeds the opportunity to take an unlikely and largely undeserved lead. 

Rafinha stepped up and struck squarely down the middle with a composed strike past Edouard Mendy for his seventh goal of the season, ensuring Chelsea would not keep another clean sheet for their fifth consecutive match. 

Yet Chelsea stuck to the task and continued to play their game, showing sustained intensity to get back on level terms before the half time whistle blew. 

On 42 minutes, Mason Mount’s left foot connected with a cross from Alonso who beat Stuart Dallas to find Mount who steered the ball in at the near post, making him the club's top scorer this season. 

Second Half: 

The second half brought the games second penalty inside 13 minutes when Antonio Rudiger was fouled by Leeds goal scorer Rafinha who took the defender down with a scissor-like action, though originally waved away by Chris Kavanagh, Mike Dean in the VAR studio invited the referee to look at the screen and a penalty was subsequently awarded to Chelsea.

Jorginho stepped up to score his fifth goal of the season and his 12th successive penalty for Chelsea, giving them the lead for the first time in the match, which still had more twists and turns, and penalties to come. 

Final Ten Minute Tussle: 

When 19-year-old striker Joe Gelhardt was introduced on 82 minutes it was to a chorus of boos from the travelling Leeds supporters, disappointed to see the outgoing Rafinha replaced. 

Luckily for those fans, Gelhardt wasn’t too deterred and put his side back into the game at 2-2 just a minute later with his first significant involvement. 

This left Chelsea having conceded eight goals in their last four games, despite previously only conceding eight in their previous 20 games prior to that.

So, it came as no surprise when Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel introduced Romelu Lukaku with under 10 minutes to go to try and salvage something for the London side. And with five minutes added on to the 90, the opportunities kept coming.

It was Rudiger again who was taken down on the edge of the area, this time by Mateusz Klich, for the award of the third and final penalty when he made a rash challenge on the German who didn’t appear to be posing much threat on goal.

Jorginho again stepped up to convert in the 94th Minute and keep his head and Chelsea’s title challenge on track.

The game was at times ferocious, as Chelsea and Leeds game have traditionally been, with several bookings for each side. The scenes at the final whistle saw both teams grappling and grabbing each other, with Junior Firpo and Rudiger looking the most aggrieved as they were dragged apart by their teammates.

Evening Evaluation:

Chelsea went into the game five points behind champions Manchester City and have now closed the gap back down to two but will continue to soul search to understand why they have suddenly started conceding goals at the rate they have in the last few weeks.

Thomas Tuchel must ensure that he can stop the goals from flowing so freely and handing out gifts to the opposition.

If Chelsea are to remain in the chase of what is arguably a three-horse race for this season’s title and keep in touching distance of those currently setting the pace, then Tuchel will know that the clean sheets urgently need to be restored 

The impending departure of Mendy to the African Cup of Nations in January will surely be weighing on his manager’s mind but Chelsea  have managed to escape a third consecutive home draw with a last gasp smash and grab two points from two second half penalties.  

 

 

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