Chelsea warmed up for Saturday’s FA Cup final with a 3-0 win at 10-man Leeds United that edges Thomas Tuchel’s side closer to Champions League qualification.
The world champions could have been forgiven for having one eye on their Wembley date with Liverpool, but they were in control and in the lead even before Dan James was sent off midway through the first half.
Dan James followed suspended team-mate Luke Ayling in earning a reckless red card, giving relegation-threatened Leeds a mountain to climb having already conceded to Mason Mount.
Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku subsequently wrapped up victory, moving Chelsea in third eight points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have three games to play.
A makeshift Leeds defence missing a natural full-back in Ayling’s absence had been quickly exploited by Chelsea, whose first real foray brought the fourth-minute opener as Reece James teed up Mount for a fine finish high past Illan Meslier.
Staying at 1-0 longer than appeared likely at that stage, Leeds looked to have successfully seen out a spell of relentless Chelsea pressure when Dan James thundered into a challenge on Mateo Kovacic – winning the ball before planting his studs into the midfielder’s ankle – and was dismissed.
Lukaku soon had a goal ruled out for offside and then directed a header just wide of the left-hand post as the visitors sought to capitalise.
They were made to wait until 10 minutes into the second half, when Mount’s flick gave Pulisic space on the edge of the box to pick out the bottom-left corner.
Pulisic and Lukaku each fired narrowly wide, before the latter finally got his goal after patiently steadying himself in the area, with Leeds – already in the relegation zone on goal difference – surely grateful simply to avoid further damage.