Chelsea all but assured their place in next season’s Champions League by brushing aside relegation threatened Leeds United at Elland Road.
Tonight’s fixture was billed by many as being a must win for the home side, but they got off to the worst possible start after four minutes when a Chelsea counter-attack ended with Mason Mount curling a brilliant effort into the top corner from the edge of the area.
Thomas Tuchel’s side looked in complete control and on 24 minutes it felt like the game was all but over when Leeds attacker Dan James was shown a straight red for a reckless challenge on Mateo Kovacic.
The Blues eventually got their second ten minutes after the break when Mount laid it off to Christian Pulisic and the USA international’s deflected effort from 20 yards out nestled in the bottom corner.
Fresh from his double against Wolves at the weekend, £98 million man Romelu Lukaku had looked lively throughout and the Belgian striker sealed the win with a powerful close range finish on 83 minutes.
Speaking afterwards Blues boss Tuchel was delighted with his sides display but lamented the injury to Kovacic – caused by James’ lunge – and the Stamford Bridge outfit will now be sweating on the Croatian’s fitness ahead of their FA Cup final meeting with Liverpool on Saturday.
“If we did not have the major injury to Mateo Kovacic, it would have been close to a perfect evening. It was a very strong performance from the start,” Tuchel told Sky Sports.
“We accepted all the obstacles we’d have to face – a physical team and an emotional stadium. We were strong from the beginning and deserved to win.
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“We never dropped in concentration. We stayed very disciplined to avoid any chance of offensive transition. We did what we had to do at a very high level.”
“We were very focused. Even against 11 players we were clearly the better team. I felt the team were very commited, focused and calm. I had a good feeling.
“I was happy with how we played and how the players reacted after Saturday’s late equaliser. We trusted ourselves but it was necessary to clear the air and refocus.
“The level of discipline and coverage in the defensive approach, we were more careful than the last game. We took care that we have a clean sheet.”