Leeds beaten as towering Zouma header for Chelsea makes mockery of scoring stat

Date published: Saturday 5th December 2020 9:59 - Jonny Whitfield

Kurt Zouma, Olivier Giroud, Reece James

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma’s thumping header powered the Blues to a 3-1 win over Leeds United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The match was the teams’ first Premier League meeting since May 2004 and – just like the matches of old – this one did not disappoint.

The visitors made an electric start through Patrick Bamford but Chelsea levelled through Olivier Giroud, who justified his starting role ahead of Tammy Abraham.

Zouma’s second-half header, meanwhile, was his fourth goal in 10 Premier League games this season. That tally is as many as he managed in his first 141 top-flight matches.

Substitute Christian Pulisic then finished the contest off in second-half stoppage time.

There were signs from the off that the game would be open. Indeed, it proved that way with Bamford’s opener after four minutes.

Kalvin Phillips, who only recently returned from injury, sent an accurate curling pass to allow Bamford to round Edouard Mendy and slot home.

But the hosts – rallied by their 2,000 returning fans – could have equalised before the 10-minute mark. Timo Werner hit the bar after a goalmouth scramble.

Leeds continued to threaten and Jack Harrison hit the post, but Luke Ayling was offside before his cross.

Chelsea then grew into the game, helped by a scary moment for Whites goalkeeper Illan Meslier. The Frenchman gave the ball to compatriot Olivier Giroud, who could not finish.

But Giroud, whose four goals in Seville earned him a start over Tammy Abraham, was not to be denied. His flick from Reece James’ cross was enough to beat Meslier.

Olivier Giroud

The 34-year-old then had a flash chance to make it two just before the break, but he missed with an attempted flick.

Leeds were caught asleep at the start of the second half, but a foul on Phillips meant Liam Cooper got away with his error.

Both sides then exchanged clever set pieces but neither resulted in a goal. Kai Havertz’s header flashed over before Raphina had a shot saved by Mendy and his rebound skied over.

Chelsea’s dominance begins to show

Kurt Zouma

Timo Werner was then denied by a super double stop by Meslier and an Ezgjan Alioski block inside the box.

But the hosts’ pressure eventually told from the resultant corner, Zouma rising highest to head the ball home.

Chelsea then began to assert their authority, despite not immediately adding a third to finish the contest.

Ben Chilwell’s cross deflected just wide of the post, Werner was again denied by Meslier and Giroud – free from another corner – directed his header over the bar.

Leeds’ first real chance of the half came after 77 minutes. Substitute Ian Poveda wriggled away from his marker but Mendy collected his low strike.

Chelsea then continued to hold off their opponents and first-half substitute Christian Pulisic added the third three minutes into stoppage time, flicking Werner’s pass in.

The result moved Frank Lampard‘s men top of the Premier League ahead of the weekend’s other games.

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