Pochettino thanks Chelsea players after FA Cup win

Mauricio Pochettino thanked Chelsea’s players after they edged out Championship side Leeds to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup thanks to Conor Gallagher’s late strike.

After being heavily criticised following Sunday’s extra-time defeat by Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, Chelsea looked set for another difficult evening when Leeds took the lead after just eight minutes through Mateo Joseph.

Goals from Nicolas Jackson and Mykhailo Mudryk put the Blues in front before Joseph levelled in the second half, with substitute Gallagher pouncing in stoppage-time after a superb run and pass by stand-in skipper Enzo Fernandez.

It eased the pressure on boss Pochettino amid speculation over his position.

“We are facing a team full of confidence, who have not lost for three or four months, who are doing fantastic in the Championship,” Pochettino said.

“It was tough for us when you concede after a few minutes, but the character we showed after it is something for the team to learn and I am so happy to avoid extra time and score near the end.

“We are in the quarter-finals and it is always tough when you lose a final in extra time and have to play again with less than 72 hours to recover and the effort was massive and I say thank-you to the players.”

Chelsea’s big-money signings Jackson, Noni Mandueke, Mudryk, Fernandez and Moises Caicedo all produced arguably their best performances since arriving at the club, and Pochettino admitted giving all of them game time is a challenge.

“They are young and need to play if they want to evolve and be ready,” he said.

“But at the same time we need to win games and we have Cole Palmer, Raheem Sterling and Christopher Nkunku, so we need a balanced side, but we need to work for the future to see if these young players can continue to develop.”