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Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma’s header propelled the Blues to a 3-1 victory over Leeds United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The match was the teams’ first Premier League match since May 2004 and, like matches of yore, this one did not disappoint.
The visitors made an electric start through Patrick Bamford, but Chelsea tied through Olivier Giroud, who justified his starting role ahead of Tammy Abraham.
Meanwhile, Zouma’s header in the second half was his fourth goal in 10 Premier League games this season. That count is the one he achieved in his first 141 games in the top flight.
Substitute Christian Pulisic then ended the match in second-half injury time.
There were signs early on that the game would be open. In fact, it turned out that way with Bamford’s first game after four minutes.
Kalvin Phillips, who recently returned from injury, sent a precise curly pass to allow Bamford to round Edouard Mendy and slip in at home.
But the hosts, gathered by their 2,000 returning fans, could have tied before the 10-minute mark. Timo Werner Hit the crossbar after a mouth fight.
Leeds kept threatening and Jack Harrison hit the post, but Luke Ayling was offside before his cross.
Chelsea then grew up in the game, helped by a terrifying moment to White clothes goalkeeper Illan Meslier. The Frenchman gave the ball to his compatriot Olivier Giroud, who was unable to finish.
But Giroud, whose four goals in Seville earned him a start over Tammy Abraham, couldn’t be denied. His move from the Reece James center was enough to beat Meslier.
The 34 year old then he had a quick chance to do two just before halftime, but failed with a flick attempt.
Leeds fell asleep early in the second half, but a foul on Phillips meant Liam Cooper had his way.
The two sides then exchanged smart set pieces, but neither resulted in a goal. Kai Havertz’s header flashed before Raphina had a shot stopped by Mendy and her rebound went through the air.
Chelsea’s dominance begins to show
Timo Werner was later denied by a super double save by Meslier and a block by Ezgjan Alioski inside the area.
But the pressure from the hosts finally said from the resulting corner, Zouma rising higher to head the ball home.
Chelsea then began to assert her authority, despite not immediately adding a third to end the contest.
Ben Chilwell’s cross deflected just off the post, Werner was again denied by Meslier and Giroud, free from another corner, headed his header over the crossbar.
Leeds’ first real chance of the half came after 77 minutes. Substitute Ian Poveda walked away from his marker, but Mendy picked up his low blow.
Chelsea then continued to hold off their opponents and first-half substitute Christian Pulisic added the third three minutes into injury time, throwing a Werner pass.
The result moved Frank LampardThe men top the Premier League before the other games of the weekend.