| 16.1°C Dublin

Antonio Rudiger inspires Chelsea to crucial bounce-back win over Leicester

Jorginho’s penalty added to the Germany defender’s opener in a 2-1 win.

Close

Antonio Rudiger, left, celebrates after opening the scoring (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Antonio Rudiger, left, celebrates after opening the scoring (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Antonio Rudiger, left, celebrates after opening the scoring (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Antonio Rudiger’s first goal in 15 months and a Jorginho penalty inched Chelsea towards a top-four Premier League finish with a 2-1 win over Leicester.

Germany defender Rudiger bundled home Ben Chilwell’s deflected corner with his thigh as Chelsea shook off Timo Werner’s two disallowed goals at Stamford Bridge.

Jorginho calmly slotted a spot-kick to seal the Blues’ vital victory, with the only worry being an early enforced exit for key midfielder N’Golo Kante.

Close

Jorginho celebrates putting Chelsea 2-0 up (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Jorginho celebrates putting Chelsea 2-0 up (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Jorginho celebrates putting Chelsea 2-0 up (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Kelechi Iheanacho sidefooted in for Leicester to set up a nervy finish, but Ayoze Perez missed a golden chance as Chelsea held out for a result of major significance.

The Blues avenged Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup final defeat by Leicester with a pulsating showing in west London, to leapfrog the Foxes into third place in the Premier League table. Beat Aston Villa on the road on Sunday and the Blues will book the all-important Champions League qualification for next season.

Thomas Tuchel branded the resurgent Rudiger an “aggressive leader” on Monday, and the very next day the 28-year-old encapsulated that praise with another pivotal performance.

Rudiger found the net for the first time since his brace snagged a 2-2 draw at Leicester on February 21, 2020.

The powerful German has been playing in a protective mask after breaking his jaw, amid a hugely impressive second half of the campaign.

And this towering performance might just be enough to seal the Blues that Champions League place for next term, whatever happens in the showpiece finale of this season’s competition against Manchester City in Porto on May 29.

Rudiger almost left Chelsea in September after falling out of favour with ex-boss Frank Lampard but ever since fellow German Tuchel’s arrival, the former Stuttgart and Roma centre-back has been entirely revitalised.

His scrambled goal lifted all the pressure that had grown and grown with every missed chance – and those two disallowed goals for Werner.

Pulisic could not turn in Chilwell’s cross from close range but for the hosts, the frustrations were only just beginning.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Kasper Schmeichel saved well from Kante, Pulisic and then twice denied Mount in a virtuoso show of goalkeeping.

Close

Thomas Tuchel consoles N’Golo Kante, left, as he leaves the field injured (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Thomas Tuchel consoles N’Golo Kante, left, as he leaves the field injured (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Thomas Tuchel consoles N’Golo Kante, left, as he leaves the field injured (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Pulisic should have fed Werner in the middle but rejected the cross and wasted another big opening, then Werner saw a smart low finish ruled out for offside.

Thiago Silva headed over from Chilwell’s corner before Kante trudged out of the clash in a worryingly early exit. The fit-again Mateo Kovacic quickly caught the pace of the game in a promising return to action as his replacement.

Werner bundled the ball over the line from point-blank range, with goalline technology awarding the goal.

But after Werner had raced to the corner, slid on his knees and celebrated with the returning Chelsea fans, VAR reared its head. The almost inevitable review saw the goal disallowed for handball and Chelsea denied again.

Close

Chelsea fans were back in the stands and making their voices heard (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Chelsea fans were back in the stands and making their voices heard (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Chelsea fans were back in the stands and making their voices heard (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Chelsea’s fans made their feelings crystal clear, chanting “it’s not football any more”, and plenty more laced with industrial language.

Mount drove a half-volley over the bar before absolutely skinning Caglar Soyuncu and cutting back well for Pulisic. But again the USA forward could only turn the ball the wrong side of the post.

After all the wasted chances of the first half, Chelsea were ahead in a flash after the interval. Luke Thomas first conceded a cheap corner, then unwittingly flicked on Chilwell’s centre to Rudiger to bundle in.

Close

Antonio Rudiger, second right, scores Chelsea’s first goal (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Antonio Rudiger, second right, scores Chelsea’s first goal (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Antonio Rudiger, second right, scores Chelsea’s first goal (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Players and fans alike waited with bated breath for the dreaded VAR review but when none came, celebrations tinged with relief flooded the ground.

Werner raced through on goal in a lightning Chelsea break, only to chip the ball tamely into Schmeichel’s arms.

Chelsea attacked again quickly however, and though Werner appeared to be meandering down a blind alley he was felled by Wesley Fofana.

Referee Mike Dean awarded a free-kick but his call was overruled by a VAR check, with a penalty being handed to the hosts.

Jorginho stepped up, added his trademark skip – and sent Schmeichel to one corner and the ball into the other.

Close

Jorginho makes it 2-0 from the spot (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Jorginho makes it 2-0 from the spot (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Jorginho makes it 2-0 from the spot (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Chelsea’s 2-0 lead forced Leicester to push the envelope and Iheanacho slotted home to cut the hosts’ advantage in half.

Perez had a fine chance to level late on, but blazed high and wide as Chelsea held out for the crucial win.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy