Leeds United suffer at hands of ruthless Chelsea as relegation worries deepen

Leeds United were defeated by three goals to nil at home to Chelsea as the Whites failed to climb out of the relegation zone

By Joe Donnohue
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 9:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 9:37 pm

Jesse Marsch sprung a team news surprise on Wednesday evening, naming four changes to Leeds' starting XI.

There was no room for Joe Gelhardt, Mateusz Klich, Junior Firpo or the suspended Luke Ayling.

Instead, the quartet that had started away to Arsenal last weekend were replaced by Pascal Struijk, Lewis Bate, Daniel James and captain Liam Cooper.

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DEJECTED: Leeds lose 3-0 to Chelsea (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Elland Road sung defiantly ahead of kick-off and as Anthony Taylor's whistle blew, 'Marching On Together' was still ringing in the ears.

The crowd was silenced, though, just three minutes and twenty-three seconds into the contest as Reece James galloped beyond Leeds' midfield line and cut back for Mason Mount whose run from deep had not been tracked.

Mount's side-footed effort nestled in the top right-hand corner and Elland Road was subdued for a time.

Their pre-match defiance soon turned volcanic as Leeds showed signs of life, but inside the opening 15 minutes, any semblance of creativity in Chelsea's half proved all too fleeting.

If the result had not already been decided by Leeds' attacking anonymity during the opening exchanges, the pendulum swung against them in the 24th minute of the game when Daniel James saw red.

The Welsh winger dived in on Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic, razing the Croatian to the ground. Anthony Taylor calmly reached for his breast pocket and brandished the red card, much to Elland Road's disgust.

Replays showed the official was more than justified in his decision to expel the diminutive forward. Shortly thereafter, Kovacic was withdrawn, appearing to feel the effects of James' high challenge.

Romelu Lukaku's chip on Illan Meslier towards the end of the first half found the back of the net, only for the assistant referee to raise his flag after the fact, much to the annoyance of Diego Llorente.

The second half brought little reprieve to Leeds' misery. Nine minutes after the restart, Christian Pulisic was found in space on the edge of Illan Meslier's penalty area, supplied by the clever flick of opening goalscorer Mason Mount.

Jesse Marsch's countryman swept the ball onto his left foot and guided it into the bottom corner to double the Londoners' advantage.

As the second half wore on, a third goal for the visitors became a formality. They did not attack with the same menace as other top sides to have visited Elland Road, but Leeds' lack of cohesion in Chelsea's half meant one-way traffic and further concessions an inevitability.

Romelu Lukaku delivered the third blow, shortly after Llorente had been dispossessed cheaply in his own half. A pass into the area from Hakim Ziyech found the Belgian forward whose shimmying side-to-side was enough to buy a yard and fire beyond Meslier, along with several white shirts strewn across the box.

Despite the scoreline, Elland Road remained defiant and vocal until the very last. Some took to the exits with Lukaku's finish but the majority remained in their seats, or standing.

With two matches remaining this season, it is Leeds who are still standing, but a performance akin to Wednesday evening's this coming Sunday against Brighton, and that may well change.

Leeds United XI: Meslier; Koch, Cooper (c), Llorente, Struijk; Bate, Phillips, Raphinha, James, Harrison; Rodrigo

Subs: Firpo, Klich, Gelhardt

Goals: None

Chelsea XI: Mendy (GK); James, Christensen, Chalobah, Rudiger, Alonso; Jorginho (c), Kovacic, Mount, Pulisic; Lukaku

Subs: Loftus-Cheek, Ziyech, Azpilicueta

Goals: Mount, Pulisic, Lukaku

Attendance: 36,549

Final Score: Leeds United 0-3 Chelsea