Leeds vs Chelsea: assessment and reaction of the players before the ‘reckless’ red card of Dan James that condemns the whites to another defeat

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Leeds 0-3 Chelsea (Red card James 24′ | Mount 4′, Pulisic 55′, Lukaku 83′)

ELLAND ROAD – The time will come for a full investigation into Leeds United’s disastrous campaign and the myriad of mistakes that were made, but Wednesday night at a feverish Elland Road was not to be.

Not with emotions running so high. Not when, crucially, Jesse Marsch’s team still has two games to save themselves from falling, as unlikely as that seems now.

For the second game in a row, Marsch’s undisciplined side lost their heads and got another chance to climb out of relegation trouble.

When Dan James was dismissed in the 24th minute for a dangerous lunge on Mateo Kovacic, any hope Leeds had of salvaging a point went with him.

Chelsea were leading 1-0 at the time thanks to a delightful Mason Mount goal and, had James stayed on the pitch, Leeds might have stood a chance.

Probably not, however, as Thomas Tuchel’s side always gave the impression that they could move through the gears, and they proved so when Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku added second-half goals.

Credit to Chelsea, of course. Tuchel made four changes ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final against Liverpool, but his side were still full of quality and proved too good for Leeds.

Chelsea proved to be above Leeds (Photo: Reuters)

They lack quality in too many areas at the moment and have not been helped by injuries to key players and the recklessness of those on the pitch.

Luke Ayling’s season is over following his straight red card in Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal and James will now miss the remaining games too, while Jack Harrison walked off injured in the first half.

Leeds captain Liam Cooper was fit to start, while former Chelsea prospect Lewis Bate, 19, made his first Premier League start in midfield.

However, Chelsea needed just four minutes to find the net. Lukaku and Mount were involved in a move that saw the ball pass into the hands of Reece James on the right flank.

He found Mount on the edge of the 18-yard box and the Englishman hit a superb right footed shot that flew just over the edge of the net.

Opportunities began to proliferate in front of the Leeds goal and, midway through the first half, James was given a straight red for his unnecessary late tackle on Kovacic in midfield, soon forcing the Chelsea midfielder out injured.

Lukaku lifted the ball into the net from a clever pass from Mount, only to be denied the goal by an offside flag.

The striker then headed wide, but victory was secured 10 minutes into the second half when a deft touch from Mount found Pulisic, who had time and space to fire a low left-footed shot.

Lukaku got the goal his efforts deserved at the end, showing strength to carve out space and finish with his left foot from close range.

While Chelsea’s focus now turns to Liverpool and Wembley, Leeds must wake up for a critical home clash with Brighton the following day. On this evidence, it’s a great question.

player ratings

Leeds

  • lighter 6
  • rapine 5
  • Koch 6
  • tonelero 6
  • Llorente 6
  • Struijk 6
  • child 6
  • Phillips 5
  • Harrison 6
  • Santiago 4
  • Rodrigo 5

alternates

  • Firpo 6
  • Klich 6
  • Gelhardt 6

chelsea

  • Mendy 6
  • Santiago 7
  • Jalobah 6
  • Rudiger 6
  • Christmas 6
  • alonso 6
  • Kovacic 6
  • Jorge 6
  • Monte 8
  • my wound 7
  • Pulisic 7

alternates

  • Azpilicueta 6
  • Loftus-Cheek 6
  • Ziech 6

Reaction: ‘Reckless’ Dan James ejected for ‘indefensible’ tackle

Paul Robinson on BBC Radio 5 live: “It’s the last thing Leeds needed, two games in a row. Dan James had no reason to make such a strong challenge in that part of the field.

“It is a terrible challenge. There’s no need to make that tackle. You have to control your emotions. It is indefensible.

Sky Sports commentator Alan Smith: “He’s trying to get the ball back, but he’s gone too far, in more ways than one. He certainly put an opponent in danger and that is why the red card has been issued”.

Phil Babb en Sky’s football special: “I am in shock. Jesse Marsch must be scratching his head. Leeds is throwing this overboard again. He is there to be won. But if that leg is planted, you’re in real trouble.

“It’s a red card. It’s not even close. The more you see it, the more it gets worse. Unprofessional. You’ve really put your team on it now. Dan James, look at yourself.”

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