Friday, December 3

Giroud on target and Chelsea go up after coming back to beat Leeds | Football

This was an occasion heralded as a grudge match between two famous former clubs and their respective coaches. But on a night when Patrick Bamford proved a point against his former employers and Olivier Giroud scored again in his first Premier League start to the season, second-half goals from Kurt Zouma and Christian Pulisic were enough to carry. Frank Lampard’s team at the top of the season. table.

It was far from being a classic Chelsea performance in front of 2,000 fans, though after being frustrated by a stubborn Tottenham team last week, Lampard will be relieved that his players have shown endurance to fight from behind and outpace rivals from London for a few hours in less.

It is a rivalry that can be traced back more than 50 years and to the infamous 1970 FA Cup final, although it had been eight years since they faced each other in any competition: a 5-1 defeat of Leeds in the League Cup. .

The previous all-out match in May 2004 ended up being the last Premier League match they played until their return this season and also heralded the beginning of a new era at Chelsea, with Claudio Ranieri being replaced a few weeks later by one. Jose Mourinho. .

Lampard and Bielsa’s feud is much more recent, of course, and their first meeting since the Championship play-off semifinal that followed their public disagreement also provided a fascinating subplot. The Leeds manager had insisted that the Spygate incident was a thing of the past, but surely he would have loved to see his team take the lead in the first four minutes.

Chelsea had already closed in when Hakim Ziyech’s shot was stopped by Illan Meslier and Giroud’s header from the resulting corner was inches from slipping inside the post. But in a delightful move that began when Leeds won the ball on the edge of their box, a magnificent pass from the left boot from Kalvin Phillips allowed Bamford to cut in front of Zouma and apply the shot against his former club.

Robin Koch’s departure due to injury was not ideal for the visitors, although they had Timo Werner to thank for holding his lead shortly after. Giroud’s header from another corner seemed destined for the far corner until the German mysteriously intervened and somehow managed to hit the crossbar.

Bamford did not make a single appearance for Chelsea’s first team, who arrived from Nottingham Forest as a teenager and came close to scoring his second goal after another fluid play from Leeds, only to have his shot miss. Giroud has also had to wait for his chances in West London, but further underlined his cause following his four goals against Sevilla in the middle of the week with a flawless header from a Reece James cross following a good job from Ziyech. That was the Moroccan’s last act, however, when he limped to be replaced by Christian Pulisic.

Chelsea dominated possession for the rest of the half, but couldn’t find a way, and Bamford continued to be a nuisance against a defense that seemed much more unstable than in recent weeks.

Lampard’s decision to hand Kai Havertz his first start since late October was an opportunity for the 21-year-old to stake his claim on a regular spot after joining Bayer Leverkusen.

However, having been deployed to the right of Chelsea’s three midfield, he often found himself on the periphery of their attacks and squandered a good opportunity with a free kick from James early in the second half.

On the contrary, Pulisic proved willing to make up for lost time after returning from a hamstring injury and, together with Giroud, seemed the most likely source of a second goal for the hosts. At the other end, Raphinha couldn’t take a chance after Édouard Mendy had saved his opening shot while Leeds remained a hazard.

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But having somehow avoided two Werner efforts and watched Ezgjan Alioski block another at point-blank range to deny Mason Mount, Meslier was unable to do anything with Zouma’s imposing header from Mount’s precise corner. Havertz was replaced by Mateo Kovacic to applause and a hug from his coach, who hopes there is more to come with the £ 62 million signing. The impressive Mount was then the architect of another quick break that saw Giroud simply failing to put the game out of reach of his opponents.

Werner also turned down a golden opportunity from Ben Chilwell’s brilliant center that might have calmed Lampard’s nerves before Giroud headed back in from a corner. Pulisic finally found a third goal after a disinterested cross from Werner and the Chelsea players left the pitch with chants of “We are the best in the league”. But for how long?

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