Despite only having 10 men for the last hour of a frantic match against the Foxes at the Bridge, after Conor Gallagher (pictured) was sent off for a cynical trip, Chelsea somehow held on for all three points. Two goals from Raheem Sterling, his first a cheeky contender for August goal of the month, were
Despite only having 10 men for the last hour of a frantic match against the Foxes at the Bridge, after Conor Gallagher (pictured) was sent off for a cynical trip, Chelsea somehow held on for all three points.
Two goals from Raheem Sterling, his first a cheeky contender for August goal of the month, were enough to see the Blues home on Saturday August 27, although a second-half reply from Leicester made for a nervy last 10 minutes.
Home fans were fearing a repeat of the Tottenham result, when Harry Kane got a stoppage-time equaliser. That game ended in the infamous Thomas Tuchel/Antonio Conte arm-wrestling handshake that left both managers with red cards.
It meant that for the Leicester game, Brendan Rodgers stood in the technical area, while Chelsea were being managed by a touchline committee of assistants, bobbing up and down and getting directions via a headset from Tuchel, sitting up in the stand.
It now means that in Chelsea’s last three matches, the team has had three red cards – not a record to envy and an added headache for a manager also forced to serve a one-game ban.
While Kalidou Koulibaly, dismissed at Leeds, will be eligible for selection again in the matches in the coming week against Southampton and West Ham, Gallagher will skip the next game.
There were no complaints from Chelsea when, in the 27th minute, referee Paul Tierney showed Gallagher a second yellow for sticking out his foot to upend Harvey Barnes as the Foxes’ No7 broke away to set up a one-on-one against Eddie Mendy. Gallagher had already picked up a yellow six minutes earlier for a foul.
Though goalless at half-time, Cesar Azpilicueta’s introduction for Mason Mount at the start of the second half changed the dynamics. Inside a minute, the Blues were ahead. The mass of hair that is Marc Cucurella (an instant crowd favourite) centred. Sterling controlled, paused and dinked an audacious lob over keeper Danny Ward’s despairing lunge. It was the cheekiest opener.
Sterling made it 2-0 for the 10 men on 63 minutes. He was in the right place at the right time as Reece James (watched by sister Lauren in the crowd) crossed, and had the easy task of converting. He could have had a hat-trick, but struck the post after beating Ward.
Two minutes later the tension inside a scorchingly hot Stamford Bridge rose as Leicester clawed a goal back through Barnes – their best player by a country mile.
But the Blues dug in, held on (desperately at times) and – to a collective sigh of relief – stayed the course to get their hiccupping season back on track.