Chelsea extended their impressive turnaround under new coach Thomas Tuchel with a 2-0 home win over in-form Everton on Monday as Kai Havertz played a key role in both goals on his return to the starting 11.
The German had struggled to show why Chelsea paid a reported 71 million pounds ($98 million) for him last year. But it was his shot that Everton defender Ben Godfrey turned into his own net in the 31st minute after a Marcos Alonso cross.
In the 64th minute, Havertz raced on to a long ball from Mateo Kovacic and was brought down by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Jorginho scored from the spot after his trademark skip and jump to send Pickford the wrong way.
Havertz had put the ball in the back of the net himself in the 53rd minute but a VAR check confirmed that he used his arm to control the ball before turning and striking it past Pickford.
The England goalkeeper pulled off a string of saves to prevent Everton - who had won their previous three matches without conceding a goal - from going down to a heavier defeat.
Everton wasted their only real chance to get themselves back in the game when Richarlison miscued as he shot from a promising position in the box, shortly before Chelsea went 2-0 up.
The win tightened Chelsea’s grip on fourth place in the Premier League table, four points ahead of Everton who remained in fifth position ahead of West Ham United’s match later on Monday against Leeds United.
It was the sixth win in nine league games for the Blues since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in late January and Chelsea have drawn the other three, conceding only two goals.
Monday’s shut-out meant Tuchel became the first manager to secure clean sheets in each of his first five Premier League home games.
Tuchel heaped praise on Havertz who was laid low by COVID-19 in November and was then used mostly as a substitute before picking up an injury last month.
“It was the trust we gave him and he used the trust we gave him. He is a player who has all the ability to be a dominant figure in the offence and he stepped up,” Tuchel told BT Sport.
West Ham beat Leeds to go fifth
West Ham United maintained their push for a top-four finish as goals by Jesse Lingard and Craig Dawson earned them a 2-0 home victory over Leeds United in the Premier League on Monday.
Lingard converted a rebound from his own saved penalty in the 21st minute for his fourth goal in six appearances since arriving on loan from Manchester United.
Dawson headed in West Ham’s second goal seven minutes later to help his side up to fifth spot with 48 points from 27 games.
David Moyes’s side are two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea having played a game less.
Leeds twice had goals ruled out before West Ham scored and squandered several good opportunities to get back into the game.
In the end a frustrating night for Marcelo Bielsa’s side left them in 11th spot.
England forward Lingard arrived at West Ham with something of a point to prove after slipping down the pecking order at Old Trafford and he has not disappointed.
The 28-year-old has given Moyes a different attacking option alongside the power of Michail Antonio and is clearly enjoying himself since his move to east London.
His surging run into the penalty area in the 20th minute caught Luke Ayling flat-footed and the Leeds defender stuck out a leg to bring Lingard down for a clear penalty.
Lingard’s penalty was poor though and Illan Meslier made a save, only for the ball to squirm from his grasp and back out for a relieved Lingard to convert at the second attempt.
It was against the run of play because Leeds had twice had goals ruled out, firstly when Helder Costa played in Tyler Roberts to score, but Costa was ruled offside with a VAR check going fractionally West Ham’s way.
Patrick Bamford then fired in at the near post but the ball had just gone out of play before Raphinha’s cut-back.
“Leeds caused us problems, two disallowed goals, we had to wake up and get into the game,” West Ham skipper Declan Rice said. “We could have been one or two goals down and that would have been hard to come back against a team like Leeds.”
West Ham doubled their lead when Dawson escaped his marker from Aaron Cresswell’s corner and headed in from close range.
Leeds still looked a threat after the break and West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski had to tip over Raphinha’s deflected overhead kick while Bamford scooped a great chance over.
Dawson cleared off the line late on from Rodrigo’s weak effort, although West Ham could have added to their tally when Pablo Fornals thumped a dipping shot against the crossbar.
Leeds ended up with 17 attempts at goal and Bielsa felt they deserved something from the game.
“We had the first 15 minutes in the first half which was the best for us in the game. In the second half the dominance was continuous,” he said.