Three days after losing the Club World Cup final to Corinthians in Japan, the last thing a Rafael Benitez team sporting just four changes could have done with was a trip to a rain-soaked Elland Road to meet a team with whom they share a bitter rivalry.
The omens were not looking good either when Luciano Becchio gave Leeds a first-half lead but, as if they had never been away, Chelsea ramped things up after the break. Three goals in a 20-minute spell from Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic and Victor Moses spun things in their favour, with Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres adding extra gloss late on.
Chelsea had home goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown to thank for the goal that got them level and, in the process, allowing Benitez to silence his opposite Neil Warnock, who is not the Spaniard's number one fan for what he feels was Benitez's part in his Sheffield United side's relegation in 2007.
Becchio broke the deadlock for Leeds in the 37th minute with a counter-attack goal.
After David Luiz made a hash of a foray forward, Michael Tonge picked the ball up in centre midfield and ran into Chelsea's half, releasing Jerome Thomas on the left. With Becchio clear and screaming for a pass, Thomas waited until the right moment and squared, with the Argentinian wrong-footing Petr Cech with his 15th goal of the season.
The goal had perhaps been harsh on Chelsea but they duly levelled things up just 62 seconds after the restart, with Mata's crisp, first-time hit off Moses' lay-off getting under Ashdown's outstretched hands and making a mockery of the better saves he had already made.
The former Portsmouth goalkeeper went some way to redeeming himself as the hour approached, using all of his body to deny Torres and then Frank Lampard, but he could do nothing in the 64th minute as Ivanovic nipped in ahead of everyone at the near post to nod in a Lampard corner.
Moses then found the range he had lacked in the first half with a low edge-of-the-box shot which Ashdown got nowhere near and, if Leeds thought their punishment was over they were wrong as, with 10 minutes left, Luiz split their defence in half and Hazard easily tucked away a one-on-one.
There was still time for more, perhaps flatteringly, as Torres tucked into an open goal with seven minutes left from Hazard's pass after Ashdown had denied Lampard.
- Sports & Recreation
- Rafael Benitez
- Luciano Becchio
- Jamie Ashdown
- Fernando Torres
- Victor Moses
- Eden Hazard
- Branislav Ivanovic