Chelsea 3 (Mount 42, Jorginho 55 pen, 90+4 pen)
Leeds United 2 (Raphinha 28 pen, Gelhardt 83)
Well, that was one frustrating, disappointing visit to London, as frustrating and disappointing as many other visits we’ve had to the smoke in recent years. You could argue that Leeds didn’t deserve to lose that game… and yet, if you give away a penalty like that in the dying seconds, having striven so hard and played so well to get level… well, I suppose it’s more to do with our game management than pure bad luck.
No one was expecting anything much out of this game, Leeds were depleted with yet more injuries and Chelsea have been one of the teams of the season so far; a top outfit with a squad full of quality players and now a coach who knows how to organise a team. And yet, the team we managed to put out had a nice balanced look to it and from the start it was clear we had no intention of rolling over.
By half time no one would have argued we were not worth the 1 – 1 scoreline, and the only disappointment was the nature of the Chelsea equaliser; it had a bit of a look of that Baptiste goal we conceded in front of the Kop last weekend. Then we had Kalvin Phillips struggling and out of position as Brentford rushed down their left, went past Dallas and Ayling and got the ball to Baptiste to finish. This time we watched open mouthed as Dallas, receiving the ball from Meslier, was flattened by Alonso allowing the ball to run to Werner who gave it back to Alonso in that same Leeds right back position. Once again Ayling was a tad too late in closing Alonso down and the ball was fed across. Mason Mount nipped in at the near post with Meslier looking out of position and having no chance of getting to Mount’s shot. It was another ugly looking goal to concede but, on another day, that clearing out of Dallas would surely have been given as a foul. Such is our luck once we dare to step foot south of Watford Gap! None the less it was a decent half-time outcome.
Early in the second half and, hard as it is to criticise Raphinha after all he has done for us this season, his needless challenge on Rudiger did look clumsy, although in real time the ref saw nothing wrong with it. VAR however, after several replays, deemed it worthy of a closer look by Chris Kavanagh and he revised his first opinion. Again, you can say we didn’t have the rub of the green but, equally, why make that challenge? 2 – 1 Chelsea.
Enter one Joffy Gelhardt in the 82nd minute, replacing Raphinha no less. His first touch was to slide in a lovely ball from Tyler Roberts to square the game up and, if it’s possible, ratchet up further his already soaring stock! It was a joyous moment for the travelling Leeds fans and it was a glimpse of the Bielsaball football we’ve found it difficult to replicate this season. Dallas won the ball in midfield, Klich twisted and turned under pressure and took a push in the back before finding Firpo near the left wing. Firpo was strong under a challenge to find Harrison who quickly shifted the ball inside to Klich again. Matty waited until the perfect moment to slide the ball through for Tyler to run onto and his first time low cross was perfectly aimed into that famous corridor of uncertainty where Joffy is destined no doubt to spend much of his future career knocking the ball into countless nets.
If there was a football god, he would have called it a day at that point. Everyone would have gone home satisfied with a draw between two teams playing some open attacking football. It was one needless penalty each and our superbly worked goal against theirs. Yes, just let’s end it there.
But that’s not how games pan out for Leeds in London, it hasn’t been like that for donkey’s years. With seconds left, Matty Klich swung another needless boot into the back of Rudiger and, these days, VAR will always pick it up and stuff it down our throats. It did and Jorginho put his second penalty of the day away. All I can think to say is, well, it was just so Leeds United in London wasn’t it.
Just a word on the chaos we found outside the away turnstiles before the game. It was downright dangerous. I arrived at about twenty to three and there were hundreds of fans corralled outside just three turnstiles, held between a solid line of Police and stewards and some temporary crash barriers. The pressure behind was building and building and we seemed to be going nowhere and then eventually the pressure could be held no longer and the Leeds fans had to surge forward threatening to crush those at the front who had nowhere to go. At one point double doors opened and, quite naturally many Leeds fans, trying desperately to get out of the crush, went through the door only for the Police to then arrive in force and aggressively push them back causing even more of a crush outside. How no one was injured (maybe they were and I haven’t yet heard) I will never know. I eventually got in 15 minutes after the start. It seems that all London Premier League grounds need to look at just how they cope with getting away fans in and out safely and in a timely fashion; this we saw today will one day end in tragedy if it’s not sorted.
Chelsea Leeds United
Possession 58% 42%
Shots 16 12
On Target 6 5
Corners 5 2
Fouls Committed 9 15