Chelsea 3-2 Leeds United (Feb 28, 2024) Game Analysis

Chelsea overcame second-tier Leeds United 3-2 to reach the FA Cup quarterfinals thanks to Conor Gallagher‘s 90th-minute winning goal on Wednesday, easing pressure on coach Mauricio Pochettino.

The London side, struggling in mid-table in the Premier League, lost to Liverpool in the final of the Carabao Cup at Wembley on Sunday and the FA Cup is their last realistic chance of silverware.

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“This type of performance shows that we are brave and we can win games. We know who we are,” the Argentine told reporters after conceding his side’s showing against Leeds, who took an early lead, “was not a great performance”.

Pochettino dismissed criticism by former Manchester United player Gary Neville, now a television pundit, who slammed Chelsea as “billion-pound bottle jobs” after their 1-0 loss to Liverpool at Wembley Stadium.

“If people want to run and run and run with this comment, for us it is not important,” he said. “It’s an opinion and that’s it and we move on.”

It was the first time Leeds and Chelsea had met in the FA Cup since the now notorious 1970 final replay, a violent, attritional battle that ended in victory for Chelsea and led to half a century of intense rivalry between the two sets of fans.

There was a strong police presence outside Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Connor Gallagher, right, celebrates after scoring the winning goal for Chelsea against Leeds in the FA Cup fifth round.
Connor Gallagher, right, celebrates after scoring the winning goal for Chelsea against Leeds in the FA Cup fifth round.

The Premier League side were shocked in the eighth minute when Leeds took the lead after a defensive mix-up playing out from a goal kick allowed Mateo Joseph to score his first senior goal for the visitors.

Chelsea replied with two goals from flowing moves in the 15th and 37th minutes and fine finishes from Senegal‘s Nicolas Jackson and Ukrainian Mykhailo Mudryk.

Leeds, upped the intensity in the second half, as Chelsea slowed down, clearly tiring early after playing 120 minutes on Sunday.

The visitors were rewarded in the 59th minute with a free header from the unmarked Joseph past stranded Robert Sánchez in Chelsea’s goal.

Pochettino rested key players at the start but brought on stalwarts Gallagher and Ben Chilwell as well as top scorer Cole Palmer, a trio who had worked hard at Wembley, in the second half.

With extra time looming, Gallagher latched on to a pass from Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernández then turned and shot home to take Chelsea into the last eight where they will meet Championship side Leicester City.

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