Chelsea took a huge step towards officially sealing a top-four spot and left 10-man Leeds deeper in the relegation mire with a comfortable 3-0 win at Elland Road.
Mason Mount’s early strike and second-half goals from Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku halted Chelsea’s three-game winless run and lifted them four points clear of London rivals Arsenal in third place.
It was a timely win for Thomas Tuchel’s side, who had dropped 10 points in their previous five matches, before Saturday’s FA Cup final against Liverpool.
For Leeds, it was another night to forget. They slumped to a third straight defeat to remain in the bottom three and had a man sent off for the second time in successive matches.
Jesse Marsch’s side played for 66 minutes with 10 men after Dan James’ straight red card for his ill-judged lunge on Mateo Kovacic.
James’ dismissal followed a similar rush of blood by team-mate Luke Ayling in Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal and Leeds subsequently never threatened to add to their tally points.
Chelsea put themselves on the brink of Champions League qualification to send them into Saturday’s FA Cup Final with the pressure eased from their shoulders.
A 3-0 win against 10-men Leeds means they need just one point from their remaining two games to secure a top four finish. It should never have come to this, with the hangover from their Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid last month sending them into an end of season spiral.
But Thomas Tuchel can breathe more easily now – and this victory, only their second in their last six games, could provide the perfect tonic ahead of their Wembley showdown with Liverpool.
While they cannot hope for Jurgen Klopp’s quadruple-chasers to provide anything like as flimsy opposition as Jesse Marsch’s sorry side, the confidence of a dominant performance could be telling.
Click here to read James Robson’s full report
More from Mount…
“We spoke about how big this week was at the beginning – it didn’t start well obviously last Saturday.
“We needed a bounce back, we had a few days to get together and speak within the group. Some truths that needed to be said and we got that out of our system.
“This was a game where we could get going, we know what’s coming up next. It’s a massive, massive game and this is a good step towards that.
“It’s all exciting. Speaking a bit about every game being a final and the next game is one – we’re ready and it’s time for us to try and win one.”
Mason Mount’s post-match reaction
“It was a fun one, I do love playing here.
“It’s a stadium with a lot of history, the fans are brilliant. They don’t like us too much, so it was a brilliant atmosphere.
“As soon as we got the goal, we kind of quietened the stadium down a bit and then we could play our stuff. That was what the objective was.
“I was reading the program before the game and it said ‘make the stadium as hard to play in as possible’.
“When you come here, you know it’s going to be tough. But we loved it – it was a massive game for both teams tonight.
“It wasn’t just them, it was us as well. We needed the win after a few poor results. It was a bounce-back game, and now Liverpool on Saturday.”
Reece James 9
A huge threat all night – powering down the wing to open Leeds up. Made Mount’s opener and a host more chances before playing a part in Pulisic’s goal too.
Mason Mount 9
A brilliant performance, with a wonderful goal that put Chelsea on their way to victory and then a clever flick to set up Pulisic. Heavily involved in linking their attacks. A display full of threat.
Christian Pulisic 7
Got plenty on the ball as he drifted inside and dropped deep to pick up possession and link play. Brilliant finish to put Chelsea two up.
Click here for the full Chelsea player ratings
FT: Leeds 0-3 Chelsea
Mount, Pulisic, Lukaku – job done for Chelsea.
James’ red card made it an almost impossible task for Leeds and they never looked like getting anything from the match.
90 mins: Three minutes added on… Leeds would have been very happy to just hear the whistle.
88 mins: Klich volleys an effort at goal, weak and Chelsea can break again.
Ziyech looks to put it on a plate for Lukaku again, Llorente is there this time to hack it away.
85 mins: Still so much space for Chelsea, who aren’t keen on slowing down.
Loftus-Cheek bursts forward, plays it wide to Ziyech. Curling effort from distance is just wide.
GOAL! Leeds 0-3 Chelsea | Romelu Lukaku 83′
Llorente loses it in a terrible position and Chelsea are away. Ziyech squares it for Lukaku, who takes an absolute age to get the shot away.
There’s four Leeds shirts in the way by that point, but he still hammers it into the back of the net.