Welsey Fofana scored his first Premier League goal for Chelsea as the Blues beat Leeds to ease the pressure on manager Graham Potter.
After a run of just one win in their past 15 games, there was a sense that three points were a must for Potter, despite insisting he retained the support of the club’s owners before the game.
The Blues made a blistering start and could have been 3-0 up inside 30 minutes.
Kai Havertz was one-on-one with Leeds keeper Illan Meslier, while Joao Felix smashed a shot from distance against the crossbar before Ben Chilwell prodded wide from an excellent position.
After that there was a growing sense of deja vu around Stamford Bridge as Chelsea faded while Leeds grew into the game, with Jack Harrison sending a free-kick over the bar before the break.
But Fofana ended Chelsea’s run of 396 minutes without a goal when he rose to head home from a corner early in the second half.
Leeds upped the pressure in the closing stages as the hosts dropped deep to try and hold on for a precious win, making for a nervous finale to the game for the home fans, but they held on to secure their second win this year.
Chelsea remain 10th despite the win while Leeds are 17th and only out of the bottom three on goal difference.
A pivotal result for Potter?
Saturday’s game felt like the start of a crucial few days for Potter with the visit of Leeds followed by a Champions League last-16 home tie on Tuesday against Borussia Dortmund, who won the first leg 1-0.
Defeat in both games and it would have been hard to see how Potter would be able to survive as the pressure on his position increased.
But against a Leeds side fighting for survival and coming off the back of a morale-boosting win against Southampton in their previous league game, Chelsea on the whole put in the performance Potter and the club’s fans would have wanted.
There were big chances missed again and a nervy finish but Chelsea’s fifth goal of the year proved decisive.
If the Blues can follow this up by progressing in the Champions League, then this could prove to be the turning point Potter needs.
No joy away from home again for Leeds
A significant factor in Leeds struggling near the bottom of the table this season has been their terrible away form.
They had won just once before the trip to Stamford Bridge, picking up just six points, but they did comfortably beat Chelsea 3-0 in the reverse fixture and must have fancied their chances against a side struggling for goals.
But that is a problem Leeds share. They have played plenty of excellent football this season but it often falls apart in the final third and once again they simply failed to trouble the opposition goalkeeper enough in this game.
They did not manage any shots on target until the 90th minute, when goalkeeper Meslier headed a last-gasp free-kick at his Chelsea counterpart Kepa Arrizabalaga.
A positive result at Stamford Bridge would have been a bonus for Leeds, who will likely target points elsewhere in their battle to stay in the Premier League.
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Squad number1Player nameArrizabalaga
Squad number33Player nameFofana
Squad number26Player nameKoulibaly
Squad number4Player nameBadiashile
Squad number12Player nameLoftus-Cheek
Squad number5Player nameFernández
Squad number8Player nameKovacic
Squad number21Player nameChilwell
Squad number17Player nameSterling
Squad number29Player nameHavertz
Squad number11Player nameJoão Félix
Squad number14Player nameChalobah
Squad number20Player nameZakaria
Squad number23Player nameGallagher
Squad number30Player nameChukwuemeka
Squad number31Player nameMadueke
Squad number1Player nameMeslier
Squad number2Player nameAyling
Squad number5Player nameKoch
Squad number39Player nameWöber
Squad number3Player nameFirpo
Squad number12Player nameAdams
Squad number28Player nameMcKennie
Squad number10Player nameSummerville
Squad number7Player nameAaronson
Squad number11Player nameHarrison
Squad number24Player nameRutter
Squad number29Player nameGnonto
Squad number42Player nameGreenwood
Squad number49Player nameMateo Joseph
- 33FofanaBooked at 35mins
- 12Loftus-CheekSubstituted forChalobahat 84′minutes
- 5FernándezSubstituted forMaduekeat 84′minutes
- 8KovacicSubstituted forChukwuemekaat 75′minutes
- 17SterlingSubstituted forZakariaat 68′minutes
- 11João FélixSubstituted forGallagherat 68′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 7AaronsonSubstituted forFernándezat 68′minutes
- 11HarrisonSubstituted forGreenwoodat 80′minutes
- 24RutterSubstituted forGnontoat 68′minutes
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