Chelsea on verge of top-four finish after beating Leicester

Jorginho (pen)

Chelsea gained revenge over Leicester and are on the verge of clinching a top-four finish.

Antonio Rudiger put them ahead a couple of minutes into the second half and Jorginho’s penalty doubled the lead.

Kelechi Iheanacho pulled a goal back for the visitors with 14 minutes remaining but Thomas Tuchel’s side stood firm in the closing stages.

It moved Chelsea above the Foxes into third place and means a win at Aston Villa on Sunday in their final Premier League match of the campaign would guarantee a top-four spot.

Their Champions League place for next season will in fact be secure before the weekend if fifth-placed Liverpool lose at Burnley on Wednesday night.

The recent easing of Covid-19 restrictions meant 8,000 Chelsea fans were at Stamford Bridge to savour a crucial win.

Those fans were riled in the first half by two disallowed goals and a mystifying decision not to award the hosts a penalty.

Youri Tielemans, scorer of Leicester’s spectacular winner in the FA Cup final against the Blues, clipped Timo Werner in the box while attempting a clearance – but referee Mike Dean bizarrely gave the visitors a free-kick.

An offside flag was quickly raised when Werner fired into the net shortly afterwards, but Chelsea appeared to have taken the lead 13 minutes later when the German bundled the ball in.

However, VAR showed Werner had used his arm and the goal was ruled out – much to the anger of Chelsea supporters still smarting from their team being denied a last-minute equaliser in Saturday’s final by VAR highlighting that Ben Chilwell was marginally offside.

But there was no room for doubt when Rudiger nudged the ball home from close range after Cesar Azpilicueta had flicked on Chilwell’s right-wing corner.

And the Bridge crowd warmed to VAR when it established that Wesley Fofana fouled Werner inside rather than outside the penalty area.

Jorginho nonchalantly tucked away his seventh spot-kick of the season.

Chelsea were in control but a mistake by Mateo Kovacic – back after a hamstring problem and on as a substitute for the injured N’Golo Kante – gave their opponents hope.

Wilfred Ndidi robbed Kovacic and teed up Iheanacho, who sent a first-time shot beyond keeper Edouard Mendy and into the bottom corner of the net.

Ayoze Perez missed a great chance to equalise late on when he blasted over after being found by Ricardo Pereira’s low cross.

Tempers spilled over in stoppage time, with all 22 players involved in a melee following a rash challenge by Pereira on Chilwell.

Chelsea: Mendy, James, Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta (Zouma 87), Jorginho, Kante (Kovacic 32), Mount, Chilwell, Pulisic, Werner (Giroud 90).
Subs not used: Kepa, Alonso, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, Emerson.