Chelsea 3-2 Leeds United: Blues book place in quarter-finals despite Mateo Joseph brace

FA Cup fifth round action on Wednesday evening saw Chelsea host Leeds United at Stamford Bridge with the winners of the tie set to entertain Leicester City in the quarter-finals. The Whites were entering the game with impeccable form as of late having just beaten Championship league leaders Leicester City at Elland Road whilst the Blues were coming into the tie after losing the Carabao Cup final to Liverpool on Sunday.

CHE: Sanchez; Gusto, Disasi, Chalobah, Gilchrist; Caicedo, Fernandez; Madueke, Mudryk, Sterling; Jackson
LEE: Meslier; Roberts, Rodon, Cooper, Firpo; Ampadu, Gray; James, Piroe, Anthony; Joseph

Chelsea made five changes to the side that started the League Cup final loss to Liverpool on Sunday, with Leeds also making five changes themselves as Liam Cooper returned to the starting XI captaining the side alongside Connor Roberts who received his first start in a Leeds shirt.

Leeds carried the confidence of a team unbeaten in 2024 as the game got underway in West London with Chelsea struggling to settle into the game and the Whites looking the more composed of the two sides.

The visitors opened the scoring early as Mateo Joseph netted his first professional goal at eight-minutes. It was Archie Gray who won the ball in the Chelsea box reacting to the Blues’ poor play out from the back before Jaidon Anthony set Joseph up to fire them ahead in the cup tie.

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The Blues tried to respond quickly, but Sterling’s cross from the left didn’t cause any trouble as it went out for a goal kick with the next threat coming from Enzo Fernandez whose shot from the edge of the box went wide of the goal at 12-minutes.

It wasn’t until the 15th minute that the home side were able to produce a dangerous chance, and they immediately capitalised upon the opportunity to bring the score level. The equaliser was struck through Meslier’s legs at his near post by Nicolas Jackson, assisted by Caicedo who played the ball down the inside-right channel.

Ethan Ampadu tried to progress down the right but Enzo Fernandez fouled him near the corner flag, conceding a free kick that he was able to head clear before his side were back on the attack as he struck the ball from distance – his effort was stopped by the Frenchman in net for Leeds with nobody in blue there to slot home the rebound at 22-minutes.

Mykhalio Mudryk was denied from a tight angle in the 28th minute as he drove into the box and looked for the bottom corner – Meslier was equal to the chance and cleared the ball from his near post. The initial momentum from the visitors was seeming to falter as Chelsea grew into the game and began to create chances to test the Championship side’s defence.

Dan James found space to attack down the right on the half-hour mark, but the offside flag was raised as he delivered the cross into the box and the hosts were then doubling their lead in the 37th minute – Madueke was given too much space to turn in as he played the ball to Gusto who found Sterling with the former Manchester City forward able to cut back from the right and find Mudryk who fired the ball into the bottom left corner.

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Chalobah and Fernandez were then in the referee’s book before Anthony was trying to curl the ball into the top right corner past Sanchez at 44-minutes, but his effort went wide as half-time quickly approached. Anthony looked dangerous again a minute later as he dribbled the ball down the left but Disasi managed to retrieve the ball with the Blues surviving three minutes of additional time and taking a one-goal lead into the break.

Sanchez claimed the ball from Leeds’ first chance of the second half at 47-minutes as Archie Gray worked his way down the left before releasing Firpo on the overlap who produced a dangerous cross into the box.

Leeds United captain Liam Cooper was then called upon to make a tackle on Jackson in the box to deny the striker a chance to make it three and keep his side in with a fighting chance. Jackson was threatening the Whites again at 54-minutes, dribbling into the box but he took too long to take the shot with Rodon there to stop the attack.

A shift in momentum from the end of the second half saw the visitors almost create a chance down the left courtesy of Gray and Firpo with the ball only half cleared to Anthony who was unable to dribbled the ball around Gusto and test the Chelsea keeper.

Mateo Joseph did it again at 59-minutes, heading home to level the score. Anthony sent the cross in towards Joseph at the far post who beat Chalobah to the ball, heading it down across Sanchez and scoring his brace to make it 2-2; an incredible moment for the Leeds United youngster who has been slowly working his way into Daniel Farke’s side.

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Chelsea responded with a double substitution of Gallagher and Chilwell coming on for Madueke and Gusto, but Leeds weren’t taking their foot off the pedal as Joseph looked to turn provider, slipping a pass down the inside-right channel to release Piroe whose shot was well blocked by Chalobah and sent behind for a corner that the Blues cleared after a bit of pressure that kept the game looking interesting.

At 66-minutes, the confidence of the visitors was present once more with Anthony and Firpo looking close to opening the Blues up having combined on the left, but Disasi dissolved the chance quickly.

Mudryk messed up his touch as Chelsea began on the attack at 70-minutes with Meslier able to comfortably recover the ball as the Whites took possession again, this time with Gray winning a corner on the right. Chalobah missed the corner as the ball pinged off Joseph’s chest with the forward looking surprised the ball reached him and not reacting quickly enough to the potentially threatening opportunity, giving Chalobah time to clear.

In the 78th minute, Mudryk crossed the ball from the left to Jackson who attempted to direct the ball to the far post with a header, but the ball was sent up and back down into the waiting arms of the Leeds goalkeeper with the score at Stamford Bridge remaining level.

A double substitution for Leeds saw Summerville and Gnonto enter the field of play as Piroe and James made way. Anthony cut in from the left and curled the ball towards the top right at 81-minutes before Gray was looping a cross in for Joseph at 82-minutes, but the ball didn’t fall right for the England forward to create anything of the chance.

A series of corners for the hosts were cleared well by Leeds United who created another attack shortly after; however, Summerville’s ball into the box was not read by Gnonto who the Dutch forward had expected to run into the space. The ball was eventually cleared for a goal kick.

In the 90th minute, Gallagher sealed a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for Chelsea with a goal into the top left corner across Meslier. Fernandez did well to find Gallagher who was just inside the box with his back to goal and the midfielder made no mistake making it 3-1.

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Into four minutes of added time, there were chances for the Whites to equalise once more, but the head of a Leeds player could not direct the ball from the last corner of the game into the back of the Chelsea net with Archie Gray awarded player of the match after an impressive and battling performance from his side that saw them push Chelsea right until the final whistle.

The attention of Farke’s side now returns to the league as they continue to fight for promotion back to the Premier League – they face Huddersfield Town on Saturday. Chelsea will face Leicester City at home in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.