A howler from Edouard Mendy helped Leeds stun Chelsea as the hosts seized a 3-0 victory in the Premier League at Elland Road.
The Blues goalkeeper put his side on the back foot when he allowed Brenden Aaronson to dispossess him inside his six-yard area midway through the first half for a simple tap in.
Further goals for Rodrigo – who nabbed his fourth of the season – and Jack Harrison cemented a famous win for Jesse Marsch’s men, who claimed a first triumph over their London rivals for almost two decades.
Thomas Tuchel – in the dugout despite his red card in last week’s London derby draw with Tottenham – will be left to wonder just how his side were so expertly unravelled under sunny skies in West Yorkshire.
Amid a high-energy start that saw the hosts hassle their visitors on and off the ball, Raheem Sterling thought he had curled an opener in just shy of the quarter-hour mark, only for the assistant referee’s flag to rule him offside.
That disallowed finish would come back to bite the Blues just beyond the half-hour when Mendy’s decision to dally with a backpass saw him pay dearly as Aaronson darted in to rob the Senegal international and roll the ball into the net.
Just four minutes later, Leeds had Elland Road rocking further as they doubled their tally with Rodrigo’s header, the Spaniard powering home from Jack Harrison’s free-kick after Sterling had committed a foul just outside the box.
Chelsea resisted changes, and briefly it appeared as if Tuchel’s men could force a comeback, but when Harrison finished off Rodrigo’s knockdown with a quarter of the game to go, the result was sealed.
It was to get worse for the visitors, who ended the match a man down after Kalidou Koulibaly was shown a second yellow card for dragging down Joe Gelhardt, and Chelsea ultimately skulked from the field in the shadow of a famous Leeds win.
What does it mean? Leeds earn first win over Blues in almost two decades
The last time the Whites defeated Chelsea it was through goals from Jonathan Woodgate and a 16-year-old James Milner, when they emerged as 2-0 victors in December 2002.
A long absence from the top-flight has restricted the number of encounters between the two, of course, but for Leeds, this result – and the manner in which they achieved it – might rank as their best result since they returned to the Premier League.
Rodrigo continues remarkable run
Since his arrival in what had been a club-record deal from Valencia, it has been a somewhat frustrating two seasons for Rodrigo at Elland Road, with just 13 goals in 62 games before this term.
But he has started this new campaign like a man possessed, with four goals in the first three games, making him only the fourth player to achieve the feat in the top-flight for the club.
Koulibaly discipline deepens Chelsea woes
The late dismissal of Tuchel’s big defensive purchase of the transfer window is a blow for the Blues, but hardly a surprising one.
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Koulibaly has been sent off six times in Serie A and the Premier League combined, more than any other player in the top five European leagues.
Key Opta facts
– Tuchel took charge of his 60th Premier League match today; Chelsea conceded just 17 goals in their first 30 games under the German, but have shipped exactly twice as many in the last 30 (34).
– Chelsea found themselves behind at half time in a Premier League game for the first time since their final match of the 2020-21 season against Aston Villa (a 2-1 loss). They had gone 40 successive matches in the competition without trailing at the break before today.
– Aaronson’s opener for Leeds was the first time an American player has scored under an American manager (Marsch) in Premier League history.
– Rodrigo became just the fourth Leeds player to score in their first three top-flight matches in a season, after Arthur Hydes in 1933-34, Mick Jones in 1968-69 and Patrick Bamford in 2020-21.
– Leeds pair Rodrigo and Harrison have combined for four Premier League goals this season, already more than any other duo for the club last term.
What comes next?
Leeds remain at home for an EFL Cup clash against Barnsley on Wednesday, while Chelsea host Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.
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