Leeds’ Capital One Cup hopes were demolished by a second half salvo from Chelsea, on a night which promised much but ultimately ended in disappointment for Neil Warnock’s men.

In spite of a shock first half lead for the Whites, the visitors ran out comfortable 5-1 victors. The score line, however, did not reflect the overall balance of a match in which Leeds can be proud with their performance against a side whose centre forward is valued at the same price as our entire club.

Warnock named a strong starting eleven, largely unchanged from Saturday’s win over Ipswich. Paddy Kenny and David Norris dropped to the bench, to be replaced by usual Capital One Cup goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown and gritty midfielder Michael Brown. Clearly the plan was to welcome Rafa Benitez’s men to West Yorkshire with all the gusto and verve for which the ‘dirty Leeds’ moniker was coined.

Any hopes that the Premier League side would be jet-lagged following their far-eastern adventures over the weekend were quashed in the opening stages of the match. Leeds started brightly, but Chelsea looked dangerous. Juan Mata and Victor Moses were proving to be the toughest challenge faced this season by Captain Lee Peltier and young sensation Sam Byram. Moses fired in several first half efforts which Ashdown did well to turn away.

Michael Brown had been given a job to do and he was doing it, frequently frustrating Frank Lampard and Oscar in the centre of the park.

On thirty-seven minutes, the giant-killing was well and truly on. Michael Tonge began a counter attack by feeding the ball to Jerome Thomas in the left wing position. From there, the loan man produced a sumptuous cross which was greeted with an even more sumptuous finish from Luciano Becchio. Petr Cech was left standing as the ball found the bottom corner and pandemonium broke out amongst the 33,000 strong crowd.

Minutes later, a Tom Lees header from an El Hadji Diouf cross flew narrowly over the crossbar. A 2-0 lead would have piled the pressure on European Champions, but Leeds had to settle for a one goal half-time lead.

The pivotal moment in the match came within two minutes of the second half. Spain international Mata found the bottom corner with a low left footed strike. Ashdown’s fingers agonisingly brushed the ball on its way in and, in truth, the Leeds keeper should have done better. To concede so soon after the interval deflated Elland Road.

Leeds fought back and pushed forwards, but confidence was growing ominously amongst the men in blue.

A quick fire double settled the match as a contest shortly after the hour mark. A Branislav Ivanovic header from a corner gave Chelsea the lead, before Moses powered a shot into the bottom corner.

Aidan White, Ross McCormack and David Norris stepped off the bench as Warnock chased the match. A flurry of corners temporarily raised hopes of a famous comeback, but the luck was not with the Whites tonight.

As Leeds pressed, Chelsea countered. Eden Hazard broke the offside trap to score with ease and the scoring was completed by Fernando Torres, who tapped into an empty net.

Leeds have bigger priorities this season and, whilst a semi-final would have been welcome, the focus can now return to the re-emergence of our promotion push and Friday’s takeover completion.

The cup run was good while it lasted, but it doesn’t really Mata…

Thank you to everyone who entered my ‘predict the score’ competition on Twitter. The closest guess came from @hossy_lufc who predicted a 3-0 Chelsea win. Send me your predictions for the Middlesbrough match to @Matt_K_Burton

  • giles a legend

    Hope g.h. Capital are gonna come up with a lot of cash for players of real quality..not just stoke,west brom, portsmouth squad players,tonight realy showed just how far we are away from prem league,

    • Panama Leeds

      Agree Agree

    • Guy

      I’m not sure that’s really fair! There’s the premier league then there’s the top four with the money. Playing that we would have held our own against most teams up there, but a little “icing” on the cake wouldn’t go a miss!

  • Matthew

    We have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of with this result, we all know our defense has pretty much ranged between crap/average and has lost us games, tonight for example. Even though the defense was poor, I felt like they, along with the rest of the team battled hard and to be honest I have absolutely no complaints about the teams performance, we certainly wern’t awful, I thought we were good. But clearly playing against a team packed with quality aka Chelsea we were simply taught a painful lesson.

    We can learn from this result and aim for a victory against Middlesbrough, this is the kick up the arse I think this team needed and 3 points on Saturday and in my eyes all will be forgotten.

    While I’m dissapointed like everyone else we didn’t get further, I felt like it was a good ride and the better team won in the end. No hard feelings towards Chelsea personally.

    • Iriving08

      A very fair assessment Mathew.
      Now on to the game that really matters. M’boro too have a good midfield and I fear for us unless Warnock gets his selection and tactics right.
      My team would be: Ashdown or Kenny, Peltier, Pearce, Lees, White; Byram, Green, Tongue, Thomas; McCormack, Becchio.
      You will notice that it plays two pacey full backs in their rightful positions; strengthens midfield by playing two players who are both skillful and energetic alongside Tongue (Norris falls just short on ball control); reduces our defensive weakness on the left side of midfield by playing our two best left footed defenders in defence – but this should be the partnership anyway (I can see Derby coming in for White over Xmas if they notice he isn’t getting games).
      Over to you.

      • NottsWhite

        Sorry Iriving08 I don’t agree with your inclusion of White. Although your logic is sound the player is not. White is a player with speed but does not know how to use it and has little ball control therefore is no use as a winger. As a left back he lacks positional sense and courage to move foward with the ball. We should not have to put square pegs in round holes but until 1st January we have little choice (except Drury) but White is not the answer

        • Irving08

          Last season, until Warnock came in and played him out of position, White was a consistently decent performer, when played at left back. If he did not move forward as often as you would have liked, this is because too often he had to cover for the absence of pace in central defence. In his purely left back role, he succeded in keeping some very good wingers, eg Burke, Ox-Chamberlain, pretty quiet, as I recall. As for his positional sense, it does not strike me as particularly deficient – and anyway can only improve with stability; likewise ball control. Anyway it is unfair to single him out for shortcomings that are not peculiar to him. He is one of the few players on our books with real potential to improve under the right Management. Like Bradley Johnson – a lesser player – he will only be appreciated by Leeds fans when he has departed.

          • NottsWhite

            I liked Johnson and was sad to see him go. Again you argue a good point but White is not fresh out of the youth team and has had a number of opportunities to cement a place but has not taken them.

      • Matthew

        I think it was one of few games where the scoreline didn’t upset me, as I knew each and every player on the pitch in white did their absolute best, I couldn’t ask for more. People should be proud of what they saw, that wasn’t a 1-5 performance, the scoreline did flatter Chelsea, when their squad of players worth a few hundred million pretty much outclassed us in the second half but not one player gave up. I admire that.

        Kenny will be back in the squad, I think Diouf will start against Middlesbrough alongside Becchio, McCormack will be on the bench, white won’t start. Thomas will be on for 3 quarters of the match to gain match fitness. Byram and Green have a good thing going, can see a bench with Ashdown, White, Hall, Somma, McCormack and I dunno?

        I agree that depending on who is brought in, someone like White could be loaned out, he hasn’t made an impact since being signed for longer.

        Chelsea fans, most of which are plastic will be celebrating this win, when in reality its a meaningless win. They bought the win, we as a team worked hard to try and get the win with sheer motivation and know how but it didn’t work out, there’s nothing more that can be said there.

        I think we’l bounce back against Middlesbrough.

        • Irving08

          It is pointless loaning White out:: he’s alreday been there. If he has not made an impact it is because of Warnock’s idiosyncratic selection ‘policy’. We either play him in his proper position, or sell him. Emnes will make mincemeat of Drury or Peltier. Starting with Diouf, with our central midfield against theirs, will give them the initiative, by putting us on the back foot.(Though is McCormack fit ?). We need Green in central midfield – and it happens to be his best position too. I hope we bounce back against ‘Boro; it won’t be at all easy.
          About Wednesday, of course we have nothing to be ashamed of, though I was not happy with us conceding so many goals at home again, especially to a team with just one off-form forward. Personally I prefer Graham-like miserliness to Warnock ‘gung-hoism’.
          MOT.

  • rrrrr

    Too right that Leeds have nothing to be ashamed of, although the scoreline was depressing in that we probably did not deserve to lose that badly, though such is life…

    The most depressing part was the ‘Bates out’ chant rearing its ugly head. Nothing I’ve heard in football has ever sounded so pathetic and impotent. Although Chelsea fans’ enthusiasm at being able to beat a Championship side comes close…!

  • Tyler75

    No disgrace at all – I though we gave it a real go – the real bonus seeing Somma on the bench.
    Chelsea’s five scorers cost around £110m in transfer fees – put into perspective, more money than we owed when we went into financial meltdown.
    If GFH didn’t know before what it would take to get us back challenging at the top, they do now. MOT