Pochettino ‘so proud’ after Chelsea win – but rues James’ sending-off


Cole Palmer scored his 25th goal of a remarkable season for the youngster as Chelsea made it four wins in a row and massively boosted their chances of securing a European spot.

Christopher Nkunku also scored on a great night for the Blues, somewhat spoiled only by Reece James being sent off late on.

Danny Welbeck pulled a goal back for Brighton in stoppage time.

Chelsea’s victory and Newcastle losing 3-2 at Manchester United means Mauricio Pochettino’s side moved up to sixth in the Premier League table and only need to avoid defeat at home to Bournemouth on Sunday in their final match of the campaign to seal a top-six finish.

They will even pip Tottenham to fifth place if they win and their London rivals lose at Sheffield United.

Palmer opened the scoring with a superb header from Marc Cucurella’s cross.

Earlier, Chelsea were awarded a penalty after Facundo Buonanotte was adjudged to have fouled Cucurella, but the decision was reversed following a VAR check.

Brighton almost equalised in first-half stoppage time when Joao Pedro headed Tariq Lamptey’s cross against the post.

Chelsea doubled their lead midway through the second half when Malo Gusto’s cross was swept in by Nkunku.

Nkunku had come on as a substitute for Mykhailo Mudryk, who had to go off during the first half after being caught in the face by former Chelsea man Lamptey, who seemed fortunate to stay on the pitch after a VAR check.

But James, on as a substitute and only recently back from injury, was red-carded on 88 minutes after lashing out at Joao Pedro.

Chelsea saw the game out with 10 men to earn a deserved win, although Ansu Fati went close to pulling a goal back, firing against the inside of the post, before Welbeck headed in Joao Pedro’s cross.

“I’m so happy for the players. They deserve the credit,” boss Pochettino said.

“They applied the work we are doing on the training ground and that is the important thing. I feel so proud.

“We are so happy because the three points allow us to achieve what we want, which is Europe next season.”

Another absence for the injury-plagued James, who will now be suspended, is a blow, however.

“Painful. Painful because it was a fantastic night of football and he’s our captain and a really important player,” Pochettino admitted.

“I’m disappointed because now he’s going to miss the next game and maybe a few games in next season.”

Chelsea: Petrovic, Gusto (James 69), Chalobah, Badiashile, Cucurella, Caicedo, Gallagher (Ugochukwu 99), Madueke (Sterling 69), Palmer (Casadei 99), Mudryk (Nkunku 42), Jackson (Silva 90).
Subs not used: Bettinelli, Chilwell, Colwill, Casadei.