Chelsea recovered through Antonio Rudiger’s goal in the Premier League and moved up to fifth place, while Thomas Tuchel continued his unbeaten debut as manager with a win over Sheffield United.
The German, who replaced Frank Lampard last month, saw his side struggle on the ice on a chilly evening when Oliver Burke scored the first goal.
But the visitors took the lead before the break when Mount Mason fired the ball into the bottom left corner after a cross from Timo Werner.
Chelsea then gave up its first goal in four games in disastrous circumstances when Rudiger Eduard Mendy put in the back of the net.
The winner came under strange circumstances.
Werner was brought down by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale from what appeared to be a clear penalty, but referee Kevin Friend ignored Chelsea’s call and waved his hand.
The action lasted nearly two minutes before the video assistant referee intervened, but despite the delay, Jorginho kept his cool for his sixth goal of the season.
Liverpool FC’s 4-1 defeat to frontrunner Manchester City has returned Chelsea’s Champions League aspirations to the top of the league table after slipping to ninth place under former boss Lampard.
Sheffield United, who had won three of their last five games, tried to equalize late in the game but failed to find Rudiger and missed the chance to beat second-placed West Brom.
Werner plays both sides of Rudiger’s mistake
Chelsea is a team still dealing with a change of coach and a new style.
They are now trying to make their mark with controlled ball possession and have quickly recovered from relegation under Lampard and are now one point behind in fourth place.
The draw against Wolves and wins over Burnley and Tottenham were a test of character for Tuchel after a Rudiger error threatened to derail the team against a Sheffield United side that benefited from their recent comeback.
Werner, who failed to end his 14-goal drought in the Premier League but was involved in both goals, also played a key role in the victory.
The initial pressure on the Blades led to a shaky start for the visitors’ defense. Some recklessness in the Chelsea defense meant they were trailing from the first minute.
But after Marcos Alonso’s replacement Ben Chilwell missed twice at the far post, they began to turn the game to their advantage.
This was partly due to Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic passing the ball more quickly to the leading trio of Olivier Giroud, Werner and an energetic Berg.
And it was Kovacic’s running action that allowed Chilwell and Werner to combine for their fourth goal of the season.
Rudiger, who described how he was racially abused on social media for his alleged role in Lampard’s demise, then extended a lifeline for the Blades when he passed the ball to Mendy in his own net after Oliver McBurney had pulled away.
But fortunately for the German defender, Chelsea quickly recovered and took the lead again after four minutes.
Werner took advantage of a mistake by Blades and was brought down by Ramsdale in the box as he tried to get around the goalkeeper.
Although referee Friend did not award a penalty due to Tuchel’s protests, VAR finally intervened before Jorginho deposited the ball into the net.
Rudiger then repaired his mistake by denying the hosts the equalizer. Mendy saved in injury time by thwarting substitute Billy Sharp, and Chelsea held on.
Sheffield United 1-2 Chelsea: Tuchel says narrow win over Sheffield United “difficult to see”
The knives return the gift because they miss the opportunity to come down.
Since their first win of the season against Newcastle, The Blades have recorded two more victories against Manchester United and West Brom in the last month.
However, the gap between them and the bottom of the table has widened from nine to 12 points as the teams above them also begin to hit form.
However, this did not bother Chris Wilder’s team, who were aiming for an unlikely escape from the bottom half of the board. Even though Chelsea led after a poor start, that didn’t stop the hosts from asking questions of their precious rivals.
It started as early as the first minute when Burke should have scored and in the 11th minute a penalty could have followed when Chilwell brought down Chris Basham, but the United defender was offside on the cross.
With Wilder screaming on the sideline, the Blades shook up the Chelsea defense and Jaden Bogle nearly broke through with a lob.
Despite the equalizer, Sheffield United will argue that they showed enough willpower to deserve the goal – but after receiving a gift through Rudiger, they returned the favor.
Bogle, who otherwise played well, dropped his back pass, allowing Werner Ramsdale to shoot, who had to be treated for a head injury.
The hosts tried to get back into the game when Wilder replaced David McGoldrick and Sharp, but Rudiger and eventually Mendy got in their way.
Chelsea “suicide” award winner is “very disappointing” – Wilder
“We fight and we strike,” they say.
Wilder, Sheffield United manager: “It’s an incredibly difficult league to play in and you can be benched with the same quality as Chelsea.
“We are always losers – big losers. Last year we fought with one hand on our backs, now with two, plus half with a blindfold.
“We fight and we hit, and the guys believe they can win some games the rest of the season, and we’re going to keep that belief.”
Tuchel, Chelsea boss, on Werner: “I feel that he is getting stronger every day and that he is becoming freer and freer. Today I really felt him on the pitch, he was completely in the game mentally and physically.
“And he was determined, and that’s the most important thing, because if he can continue like this, the goals will come naturally. I have every confidence in it.”
On the first four: “We are close to where we want to be. We want to do everything we can to get into the top four”.
“We said it very clearly in the beginning. So the guys have put themselves in a situation where we’re ahead against the teams we’re chasing, but that doesn’t change the fact that the next championship game is at home and we’re going to be under pressure, just like everybody else, to keep going and build momentum,” he said.
Werner proves his worth with another help – better statistics
- Timo Werner has provided more assists than any other Chelsea player (6) in all competitions this season, while his five Premier League players are also the best for the Blues.
- Nine of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho’s 11 goals in the Premier League came from free kicks (82 percent), the highest figure in the league’s history with more than 10 goals scored.
- Chelsea have won each of their last three Premier League games, their longest winning streak of the season (three from October to November). It is also only the second time this season that Chelsea have won away games in the Premier League.
- Sheffield United have won just two of their last 13 home Premier League games since beating Chelsea at Bramall Lane in July 2020 (D1 L10).
- Sheffield United have only conceded one goal in their last 25 Premier League games, and that was at Newcastle last month.
- Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger is one of only five players to have scored multiple Premier League goals himself since the start of last season (2) – the German has done so in his rarest of appearances (28).
- At 22 years and 28 days, Mason Mount is the second-oldest player to have scored 10 Premier League goals for Chelsea, behind Arjen Robben (21 years 342d).
What is the next step?
Sheffield United takes on Bristol City at home in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday, before visiting West Ham in the Premier League on Monday.
Chelsea travel to Barnsley on Thursday for the fifth round of the FA Cup, before hosting Newcastle in the Premier League on Monday.
The player of the game
- Team number 10 Player nameSharp
- Team number4NameFleck player
- Team Number12Player NameEgan
- Team number 17PseudoMcGoldrick
- Team number6 Player nameBasham
- Team number20Players nameBogle
- Team number 1Player nameRamsdale
- Team number24Player nameBrewster
- Team number7Player nameLundström
- Team number14 Player nameBerke
- Team number 13Players nameLowe
- Team number29Player nameBrian
- Team number16PseudoNorwood
- Team Number9 Player NameMcBurnie
- Team number 11Player nameVerner
- Team number19Player nameMonument
- Team number 16Player nameMendi
- Team number4Player nameChristensen
- Team number28Player nameAzpilikueta
- Team number 20PseudoHudson-Odoi
- Team number24James
- Team number 17Player nameKovacic
- Team number5Jorginhos Player name
- Team number 7Players nameplate
- Team number21Player nameChilwell
- Team number3Players nameAlonso
- Team number18Players nameGyrood
- Team number 2Player nameRudiger
- 6BashamBed at 17Minutes
- 29BrianReplaced by Sharpat 68’min
- 7Earth current
- 16NorwoodReplaced by Brewster’s 86’minutes
- 10 Sharp
- 18 Foderingham
- 24 James
- 5 Jorginho
- 21Chilwell, replaced by Alonso in the 62nd minute.
- 18 GiroudSubstitution of Hudson-Odoat 62 minutes
- 11VernerReplaces Kante after 75 minutes
- End of match: Sheffield United 1, Chelsea 2.
- End of second half, Sheffield United 1, Chelsea 2.
- Offside line, Sheffield United. Billy Sharp plays a forward pass but Oliver McBurney is taken offside.
- Attempted save. Billy Sharp (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the center of the box misses to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Oliver McBurney.
- Mason Mount (Chelsea) takes a free kick on the left wing.
- Jaden Bogle (Sheffield United) is penalized after committing a foul.
- Attempt blocked. Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United)’s left footed attempt in the center of the box is blocked.
- Attempt blocked. Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United) rattles the ball with his right foot and his shot is blocked in the center of the box.
- Reece James (Chelsea) is penalized after committing a foul.
- Max Lowe (Sheffield United) takes a free kick on the left wing.
- Failed attempt. John Lundström’s (Sheffield United) left footed shot is high and wide on the left side of the box. Assisted by David McGoldrick.
- Move at Sheffield United. Rian Brewster replaces Oliver Norwood.
- Corner, Chelsea. Founded by Max Lowe.
- Attempts blocked. Reece James (Chelsea) unloads a shot with his right foot that is blocked on the right side of the box. Assisted by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
- Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) misses his shot. Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) hits his right foot high and wide on the right side of the box. Assisted by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
- Change: Chelsea. N’Golo Kante comes off the bench to replace Timo Werner.
- Attempted save. David McGoldrick (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the center of the box misses the bottom right corner.
- Timo Werner (Chelsea) is penalized after committing a foul.
- John Lundström (Sheffield United) successfully converts a free kick on the opponent’s half.
- Reece James (Chelsea) is penalized after committing a foul.