Chelsea triumph over Leeds to advance to last eight as Conor Gallagher remains composed

Estimated read time 5 min read

Chelsea’s character was not an issue. Despite the previous extra time match against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, they were able to rally and find a burst of energy even though they were dominated by Leeds for most of the game.

Enzo Fernández, who won the World Cup, needs to take on more responsibility consistently. He was well-deserved in receiving praise for his beautiful pass that led to Conor Gallagher’s winning goal in the late stages of the game. This ensured that Chelsea did not suffer for their less than stellar performance in this thrilling FA Cup match.

However, despite Mauricio Pochettino’s jubilation over his inexperienced team’s advancement and upcoming home match against Leicester in the quarter-finals, he must acknowledge that their victory was not entirely convincing. Chelsea, who are striving to shake off their reputation as underperformers under pressure, were in danger of elimination.

There is currently insufficient proof that Pochettino has made progress in developing a clear identity for Chelsea. At times, their players excel and create noteworthy plays. Other times, they seem to struggle with frequently losing possession in their own half. Occasionally, it appears as if they are unfamiliar with one another.

It must be difficult for Pochettino to understand the situation. He likely realized that Leeds, who sit in second place in the Championship, were much more organized even though they didn’t choose their strongest lineup.

This is the first time these sides have met in this competition since the 1970 final. The match began with Chelsea facing difficulties in shaking off the sluggishness that hindered their performance against Liverpool.

Leeds is focused on automatic promotion and has made five alterations to their lineup after defeating Leicester, but this did not hinder their determination. Despite not having Georginio Rutter available and having Wilfried Gnonto, Crysencio Summerville, and Patrick Bamford on the sidelines, Daniel Farke’s team was confident in their ability to pressure Chelsea.

The first point scored exemplified this situation. Leeds had recently come close with Dan James’s attempt, taking advantage of Alfie Gilchrist’s weak defense. Chelsea had to be vigilant. However, on the subsequent goal kick, they got themselves into a predicament when Robert Sánchez, a goalkeeper not known for his passing skills, passed to Axel Disasi.

Nicolas Jackson scores for Chelsea against Leeds at Stamford Bridge.View image in fullscreen

Leeds entered the game and Disasi’s lack of possession control put Moisés Caicedo at a disadvantage with a slow pass. However, it seems that teams have also noticed a weakness in Caicedo’s game when he receives the ball in a deeper position. As soon as Leeds saw the £115m midfielder, they closed in on him and Chelsea suffered as Mateo Joseph scored against Sánchez.

Gary Neville’s jibes must have been ringing in Chelsea’s ears. Would they shrink again? The answer soon arrived. Caicedo linked with Noni Madueke in the final third. A fine pass sent Nicolas Jackson through and the striker equalised with an angled finish.

Chelsea’s challenge lies in consistently executing impressive plays. In the 37th minute, Madueke dribbled through the left side while Sterling passed the ball back for Mudryk to score. However, their gameplay lacked structure. Mudryk, playing as a No.10, was not as smooth in handling the ball as rested player Cole Palmer. The team’s defense was also not stable, with Sterling and Jackson constantly losing possession.

Leeds made a comeback. Archie Gray and Ethan Ampadu, who used to play for the opposing team, dominated the midfield, overpowering Caicedo and Fernández. Jaidon Anthony narrowly missed a long-range shot. At the beginning of the second half, Chelsea adopted a defensive approach. Gray, who was sure and graceful with the ball, controlled the game.


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Chelsea was unable to assert themselves in the game. Their attempts to counterattack were not very forceful and it was expected when Leeds scored a goal to tie the game. In the play where Anthony got past Malo Gusto and passed from the left, Joseph scored with a header after getting past Trevoh Chalobah.

Pochettino made changes to his team, substituting Gusto and Madueke for Chilwell and Gallagher. However, Chelsea continued to struggle. It was Leeds who showcased confidence and style, as they had a distinct and established style of play.

Leeds applied pressure, and Joseph nearly scored his third goal with a header. Chelsea relied on Palmer’s intelligence. The crowd erupted in cheers when the midfielder substituted for Raheem Sterling, who was once again jeered by fans at home.

However, Leeds maintained their lead, with confidence increasing when Gnonto and Summerville entered the game. Summerville quickly posed a threat, but his shot went over the goal. He also missed a good opportunity after Fernández made a mistake.

During the 90th minute, Chelsea had the opportunity to turn the game around. Fernández, who had been struggling, suddenly showed his skills and played like a champion. He made his way through the defense from the left side and made a precise pass to Gallagher, whose powerful shot saved Chelsea from facing another potentially disastrous situation.


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