Chelsea 3 Leeds United 1 - Blues recover after Patrick Bamford opener as Diego Llorente makes Whites debut

PATRICK Bamford's early opener ultimately failed to save Leeds United from defeat at Saturday night's Premier League hosts Chelsea who moved top of the table with a 3-1 victory.

Saturday, 5th December 2020, 9:59 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th December 2020, 10:06 pm

Bamford struck against his former club in just the fourth minute to put United ahead at Stamford Bridge but Olivier Giroud equalised midway through the first half and Kurt Zouma headed home one minute after the hour to put the Blues in front.

Leeds looked to hit back but Chelsea continued to create chances and Chelsea added a third in second half stoppage time when substitute Christian Pulisic converted from close range after a fine run and cross by Timo Werner down the right.

Chelsea created an opening after just 45 seconds with Hakim Ziyech thumping a strong effort at goal from inside the box that Illan Meslier saved with his feet.

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PERFECT START: Patrick Bamford gave Leeds United an early lead at his former club Chelsea but the Blues fought back to seal a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

From the subsequent corner, Champions League four-goal hero Olivier Giroud sent a powerful header just wide of the left hand post.

Yet United took the lead with their first attack in the fourth minute as Patrick Bamford capitalised on hesitant defending to latch on to a Kalvin Phillips through ball and round Edouard Mendy before slotting home into an empty net.

Chelsea looked to hit straight back and Timo Werner's deflected shot trickled well wide but Leeds were then forced into making a ninth minute change with Robin Koch injured and having to be replaced by Diego Llorente who came off the bench sooner than ideal for his Whites debut following a recent groin injury.

Chelsea somehow failed to take the lead from the corner as Werner's close range interception prevented Giroud's header from crossing the line before firing against the bar.

From a Mateusz Klich cutback, Bamford then sent a decent snapshot from an awkward angle just over the bar before Gjanni Alioski cracked a fierce effort against the post only for Leeds to be flagged offside.

But Chelsea then squandered a glorious chance in the 21st minute when Illan Meslier's poor pass to Luke Ayling let in Giroud who could only shank his shot wide.

From the edge of the box, Bamford looked to place one in the bottom left corner and forced Mendy to save but Chelsa drew level in the 27th minute when Giroud latched on to a fabulous cross from Reece James before producing a clinical finish to beat Meslier from close range.

The Blues then lost Ziyech to injury with Christian Pulisic coming on in his place and United then survived another poor pass out of defence with Pulisic unable to cash in on Llorente's misplaced effort.

After a few minutes without an actual chance, Meslier then had to be alert to pounce on Ben Chilwell's header from a corner and James then dragged a shot wide in first half stoppage time.

After a quiet opening to the second half, Kai Havertz narrowly sent a flicked header from a James free-kick over the bar.

But Raphinha twice went close to putting Leeds back in front in the 57th minute with a long range strike from a cleared corner blocked and his second follow up attempt flying over the crossbar.

Chelsea were then denied three times in a matter of seconds with Werner forcing two saves from Meslier at close range before Gjanni Alioski deflected Havertz's attempt over.

Yet from the subsequent corner, Zouma powered home a header with United's protests for a trip on captain Liam Cooper falling on deaf ears as Chelsea led a minute after the hour.

The Blues were pouring it on and and Giroud sent an effort wide without knowing much about it but Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa sent on record signing Rodrigo who immediately made a difference as Leeds went back on the attack.

Another brilliant save then denied Werner at close range and Giroud sent a free header over from the following corner but Leeds were not lying down and substitute Ian Poveda cut inside before seeing his low shot saved.

Poveda had earlier been kicked by Chilwell and could have been given a penalty.

Tammy Abraham then dragged a shot wide with three minutes left but the hosts added a third in the third minute of second half stoppage time when Pulisic converted from close range after a strong run and cross by Werner down the right.

Chelsea: Mendy; James, Zouma, Thiago Silva, Chilwell; Havertz (Kovacic 67), Kante, Mount; Werner, Giroud (Abraham 79), Ziyech (Pulisic 30). Subs not used: Kepa, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Jorginho.

Leeds United: Meslier, Ayling, Koch (Llorente 9), Cooper, Dallas, Phillips, Klich, Alioski (Rodrigo 69), Raphinha, Harrison (Poveda 57), Bamford. Subs not used: Casilla, Struijk, Costa, Roberts.

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Thank you Laura Collins