It was a quick turnaround from the FA Cup final which Chelsea lost to Leicester City last Saturday and the Tuesday encounter was for a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
A goal from Antonio Rudiger’s thigh and a hop and skip penalty from Jorginho gave Thomas Tuchel’s team a two-goal lead that was halved by Kelechi Iheanacho, who created EPL history with his goal. In the end, it took a shot from Ayoze Perez to preserve all three points for the London side.
Tuchel had blamed luck on the 1-0 loss to the Foxes in the Cup final and he needed a quick statement from his players after back-to-back defeats and they started like they meant business.
They should have been ahead as early as the fourth minute when Timo Werner outwitted two Leicester players near the centre circle and played in Ben Chilwell but the defender dragged his shot wide. Just a minute later, Cesar Azpilicueta was marginally unable to get his header on the ball in the Leicester box.
Kasper Schmeichel saved a N’Golo Kante shot in the ninth minute as Leicester repelled wave after wave of Chelsea attacks. Werner went down from a challenge from Youri Tielemans and video replays suggested it should have been a penalty.
Sky Sports reporter Alan Smith said: “I’m trying to work out how Mike Dean’s given the free-kick the other way. He certainly got kicked there, Timo Werner.”
Werner scored from an offside position in the 21st minute and then used his hand to score again in the 34th minute as the German speedster was involved in all Chelsea’s attacks. Problems for Chelsea as Kante had to go off because of discomfort and Mateo Kovacic returned to action after five weeks out of the game.
The second half was just two minutes old when Chelsea got the first goal and the 8,000 supporters in the ground erupted as the goal went in off Rudiger’s right thigh. Wesley Fofana had a nick on Werner in the 65th minute and while referee Mike Dean didn’t see anything, VAR advised him to have a look and he awarded a penalty.
Jorginho skipped, hopped and sent Schmeichel the wrong way. Brendan Rodgers had sent on Iheanacho in the 60th minute and the Nigerian hot-shot got his 12th EPL goal and made history, having scored on all days of the week in the 2020/21 EPL season.
Wilfred Ndidi nicked the ball from Kovacic and passed straight to Iheanacho, who did not take a touch before passing the ball into the net.
All three points could have been snatched from Chelsea’s grasp in the 90th minute but a golden opportunity for Perez was blasted over the bar.
There was a fracas at the end of the game as tempers ran hot but Chelsea held on to hold their own fate in their own hands as they travel to face Aston Villa on Sunday.
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