Christian Pulisic admitted to being "very frustrated" at being left out of Chelsea's starting line-up for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid.

The United States international scored a crucial away goal for the Blues in last week's first leg but was named among the substitutes for the return fixture at Stamford Bridge.

He again made his impact known, however, by setting up a goal for Mason Mount 18 minutes after being introduced from the bench in the 2-0 win, which saw Chelsea through 3-1 on aggregate.

"I'm very frustrated," Pulisic, who has struggled with injuries this term, told CBS Sports. "There's not much else to say. I wanted to play from the beginning, as I always do.

"I've had to continue to prove myself over and over again. But, as always I reach out to God and he gives me strength. With that behind me, nothing can stop me really."

A look at the Opta stats shows Pulisic has a right to be frustrated, having now scored and assisted a combined four goals in the Champions League in nine appearances this term.

Only Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner have been directly involved in more (both six) - in eight and 11 games respectively.

For comparison, Mount - who has been superb for Chelsea this season - has three direct goal involvements in 10 Champions League games, while Kai Havertz has two from 11 respectively.

Focusing on the Premier League, meanwhile, Pulisic has four goals and one assist in 23 appearances this term, just 14 of those being starts.

Pulisic's average of a 0.26 goals per 90 minutes is slightly better than Havertz's return of 0.25 and behind only Giroud (0.5) and Tammy Abraham (0.52) among Chelsea's attackers. Werner, for context, averages 0.23.

The 22-year-old also performs better when it comes to chances created per 90 minutes in the English top flight when compared to Havertz - 1.37 to the German's 1.07.

But Pulisic still ranks some way below Hakim Ziyech, who has created 2.54 chances per 90 minutes this season and will also perhaps feel that he should be starting more often.

Mount (2.68) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (2.71) lead that particular metric, incidentally, which only highlights just how many options Thomas Tuchel has available in that zone.

One area Pulisic struggles in comparison to his attacking rivals is passing accuracy in the opposition half - 80.95, which is lower than Havertz's 84.3, Mount's 85.45 and Hudson-Odoi's 85.65. ​

The American's win rate when starting games also does not make for good reading.

The Blues have won 13 and lost just two of the 20 league games Pulisic has not featured from the beginning this term, compared to four wins and five losses in the 14 games he has been included in the XI.

Chelsea average 1.8 league goals with Pulisic in their starting line-up, as opposed to 1.3 without, while their average goals against rises from 0.6 to 1.4 when he starts.

Tuchel ultimately knows best when it comes to his team selection - and he is backed up by the possibility of a Champions League and FA Cup double - so Pulisic will simply have to keep proving himself if he is to hold down a regular starting spot.

Away-day specialists Manchester City saw off Crystal Palace 2-0 to close in on another Premier League title and equal a top-flight record in the process.

Chelsea beat Fulham by the same scoreline elsewhere in Saturday's Premier League action, thanks to a couple of goals from Kai Havertz.

A two-goal success was also the outcome when Brighton and Hove Albion welcomed Leeds United to the Amex Stadium, the Seagulls all but securing their top-flight status for another season.

In the late match, Aston Villa edged out Everton 2-1 to boost their chances of a top-half finish and derail their opponents' European prospects.

We use Opta data to take a look at the best facts from Saturday's games.

 

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City: Patient Citizens win again on their travels

Goals from Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres in the space of 83 seconds proved enough for City to pick up a victory that leaves them on the brink of another piece of silverware.

Those strikes came from the Citizens' first two shots on target and saw them reach the 700-goal mark under Pep Guardiola in all competitions.

City's 57-minute wait for their first on-target attempt of the match was their longest in a Premier League game since November 2019 against Southampton.

Torres added to Aguero's opener moments later with a good finish from 20 yards - the 11th league goal Palace have conceded from outside the box this term, which is the joint-most of any Premier League team alongside Sheffield United.

The victory was City's 11th in a row away from home in the Premier League, equalling the all-time English top-flight record held by Chelsea (April-December 2008) and City themselves (May-December 2017).

Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 Leeds United: Whites lose again on south coast

Brighton moved within touching distance of securing a fifth successive season of Premier League football thanks to a well-earned victory at home to Leeds.

Pascal Gross found the bottom corner from a 14th-minute penalty and Danny Welbeck added to that with his fifth Premier League goal of the season in his 21st outing - the forward's best top-flight return since 2017-18.

It was an all-too-familiar tale for Leeds, who have now lost five successive away league meetings against Brighton without scoring - the first time that has happened in their history against a single opponent.

In fact, Brighton have won eight of their last nine league meetings with Leeds home and away, which is more than they managed in their previous 28 against them.

Leeds managed just two attempts on target as Graham Potter's Brighton claimed a seventh home clean sheet of the season, a tally bettered only by Manchester City and Chelsea (nine each) in the Premier League this season.

 

Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Havertz inflicts more derby misery on Cottagers

Kai Havertz doubled his Premier League goals tally with a brace in Chelsea's routine victory over Championship-bound Fulham.

All eight of the Germany international's goals for Chelsea in all competitions have now been scored in London, seven of those at Stamford Bridge and one at Selhurst Park.

His second goal in this game involved some nice link-up play with Timo Werner, who with that assist became the first Chelsea player to reach double figures for both goals (11) and assists (10) in his debut season for the club since Eden Hazard in 2012-13.

Werner's combined 21 goals and assists is the most of any Chelsea player this term, and he is one of five Premier League players to reach double figures for both metrics across all competitions alongside Harry Kane, Bruno Fernandes, Son Heung-min and Marcus Rashford.

Fulham have now gone 19 away games without a win at neighbours Chelsea in all competitions - only versus Everton (31), Hull City (23) and Middlesbrough (21) are the Blues currently enjoying a longer unbeaten run against an opponent on home soil.

The Cottagers are also now winless in 24 Premier League London derbies since beating West Ham in January 2014 - only Palace have endured a longer such run in English top-flight history, going 31 London derbies without a win between August 1969 and March 1973.

Fulham missed some good chances as Chelsea kept an 11th Premier League clean sheet under Thomas Tuchel - the most shutouts for any manager in their first 15 games in the competition, one more than ex-Blues bosses Jose Mourinho and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Everton 1-2 Aston Villa: Toffees' poor Goodison run continues against familiar opponents

Villa dented Everton's European hopes with victory at Goodison Park in what was the 205th top-flight meeting between the clubs - the most played fixture in England's top division.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Villans have won more games (20) and scored more goals (73) in the Premier League era against Everton than they have against any other side in the competition.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his 20th goal in all competitions this season to open the scoring in Saturday's late kick-off - with that haul including a Premier League leading seven headers - to cancel out Ollie Watkins' opener.

But Anwar El Ghazi snatched all three points for the Villans 10 minutes from time with his eighth goal in 23 Premier League games this season, doubling his tally from 34 appearances in the competition last time out.

Everton have now won just one of their last 10 home league matches and have tasted defeat at Goodison Park eight times this season - only in 1993-94 have they lost on more occasions (nine) in a single Premier League campaign.

Thomas Tuchel praised Kai Havertz for giving him a headache ahead of Chelsea's Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid with his match-winning performance against Fulham.

Havertz scored a goal in each half as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 victory over Fulham, which moved them six points clear of West Ham in the race for the top four, although David Moyes' side have a game in hand. 

The Germany international had started on the bench in Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Madrid, but may have given Tuchel a selection problem for the return fixture at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday after doubling his Premier League goals tally for the season having scored only two goals in his previous 24 appearances in the competition.

"Still there is room for improvement but for today I am very happy," Tuchel told a media conference of Havertz's performance. 

"Of course, he was decisive, he was involved with Timo [Werner] as a double striker and with Mason [Mount] and Hakim [Ziyech] as the four offensive guys, always involved in dangerous attacks and situations.

"For me it was the individual example for what I just explained, the players today who maybe had a tough decision on them last Tuesday but they didn't say, or like Kai today, didn't play with the attitude that they need me and I wanted more time in Madrid, why do they play me now only against Fulham?

"This was absolutely not the case, he took his chance, he showed up, this is what we need all the time and especially in situations like this, you need guys who are fully committed.

"That means if you have a chance to show up, then show. If you have five minutes, fifteen minutes or a whole game, whatever it is, show that you are ready and give me a headache for the next game."

Asked if the race for a top-four finish is now theirs to lose, Tuchel replied: "No, I feel we have nothing to lose. We are in the middle of the race.

"I think it will continue but it was such a big match to keep the advantage, we have worked so hard in the last week and like I said it is very important that we have a clear mind and nothing to regret for the Wednesday game.

"Then comes the Wednesday game and then look at our fixtures, you see how tough it is. We take nothing for granted, we work hard and keep our head down, feet on the ground and try to the best we can."

Chelsea tightened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League as Kai Havertz's double guided them to a routine 2-0 win over Fulham at Stamford Bridge.

Havertz had only scored twice in his previous 24 Premier League appearances in his first season following a high-profile move from Bayer Leverkusen.

But he showed his class against relegation-threatened Fulham in Saturday's clash, a goal in each half sending Chelsea six points clear of fifth-placed West Ham, who face Burnley on Monday.

Fulham are nine points adrift of safety with four games to play and will be all but relegated if Newcastle United defeat Arsenal on Sunday and Burnley overcome West Ham.

After a bright start by Fulham, they were quickly undone by some brilliance from Mason Mount, who controlled a long ball superbly before sliding in Havertz to break the deadlock as a deflected shot beat a helpless Alphonse Areola.

Havertz had the ball in the net again but from an offside position, and Chelsea had Edouard Mendy to thank for preserving their lead as Ademola Lookman was denied for an undeterred Fulham.

But only Areola stopped Fulham from having a mountain to climb as he produced a tremendous stop after Werner collected another excellent Mount pass and squared for Hakim Ziyech.

More goalkeeping heroics came at the other end on the stroke of half-time, Mendy displaying his reflexes to keep out Ola Aina's deflected half-volley.

The significance of that save was illustrated just over three minutes into the second half as Havertz put Chelsea in complete command.

He played an almost nonchalant one-two with Timo Werner, strolling into the box to roll the ball past Areola and push Fulham further towards a return to the Championship.

 

 

Chelsea duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz need strong personalities to succeed at Stamford Bridge, according to Kevin Kuranyi.

Germany stars Werner and Havertz both joined Chelsea at the start of the season, from RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen respectively, amid high expectations but it has been a challenging start to life for the pair in the Premier League.

After scoring 28 goals in the Bundesliga and 34 across all competitions last season, Werner has found the back of the net on 11 occasions and supplied nine assists for Chelsea this term, including six Premier League goals.

Havertz – who became Chelsea's most expensive outfield player ahead of the 2020-21 campaign – has shown glimpses of his quality with six goals and six assists, though he has largely struggled.

Former Germany striker Kuranyi backed the pair to rediscover their best form in London.

"Of course they were playing a really high level in Germany," 52-time Germany international Kuranyi, who played for Stuttgart and Schalke in the Bundesliga, told Stats Perform News.

"But if you play in a club like Chelsea… I was talking with some friends who play at Chelsea before and there it is very important to have a strong personality to play there.

"They are young players, like Havertz – he is in the first step of his career. He made a big, big step so he needs time to keep his quality at Chelsea.

"I think the first year is very important to learn a lot, to try to do the best, but in the second and third year will be much better."

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea – fourth in the Premier League – are preparing to face Real Madrid in the opening leg of their Champions League semi-final showdown on Tuesday.

Thomas Tuchel praised a "good step" taken by Kai Havertz and called on the Chelsea forward to continue to show his quality after his instrumental role in the 4-1 win at Crystal Palace.

Havertz has largely struggled since his close-season move from Bayer Leverkusen but opened the scoring at Selhurst Park, where Chelsea surged back into the top four.

He laid on the second goal for Christian Pulisic as Chelsea went two up inside 10 minutes, with Kurt Zouma's header and a late effort from Pulisic, sandwiched by a Christian Benteke consolation, giving the Blues a comfortable victory.

Havertz's goal was his first in the Premier League since October while this was his first game in the competition in which he has both found the net and provided an assist.

Chelsea have the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Porto, which they lead 2-0, on Tuesday before taking on Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final next Saturday.

With so many significant fixtures on the horizon as they also fight for Champions League qualification next season, Tuchel wants more from Havertz.

The coach told a post-match media conference: "He has quality, he needs to show it. Easy as that.

"He will never be our emotional leader, we don't expect him to be. But we expect him to show his quality.

"Honestly, he needed to show he can do better. So many decisive matches coming, he got another chance to show he can do better than he did against Porto. A good step and a good performance."

Mason Mount was similarly impressive for Chelsea, playing four key passes and providing the assist for Zouma's fifth goal of the season.

The midfielder also completed 93.8 per cent of his passes in the opposition half and sent in a game-high 15 crosses.

Asked about Mount, Tuchel added: "Mason was focused, high energy level, strong performance.

"It's in our DNA that we have a high work rate, high intensity and are tired after a match. This is how it should be, we are Chelsea."

Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea retain "faith and trust" in struggling forwards Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.

Both players were substituted with 25 minutes left in the 2-0 Champions League win over Porto in Seville on Wednesday.

Tuchel said after the quarter-final first leg that the two players had not given him what he was looking for.

But ahead of the short trip to play Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, he insisted both players remain a key part of his plans and that his substitutions were specific only to that match.

Tuchel accepts Werner is lacking in confidence but does not have any concerns over Havertz.

Werner has been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season than any other Chelsea player (11, with five goals and six assists). 

However, the Germany striker has scored with just one of his last 42 shots in the competition, a strike against Newcastle United in February.

"Look at the games Porto played in the Champions League," said Tuchel in defence of Werner and Havertz.

"If you can show me any nice, fluid and pretty games of any opponent we can talk again. I did not find it. 

"They make your life very tough, especially for offensive players. They went through the group with 13 points. You can ask in the group how easy it was to play against them. 

"They did not have the easiest task up front. They had a big impact defensively and they worked hard for us, both Kai and Timo. 

"It was difficult for them to find spaces and create something, so we changed after 65 minutes but we will not lose faith and trust. 

"We accept sometimes it's hard sometimes to have a big impact. Maybe Timo misses a bit of confidence in his finishing but Kai, I feel, is very self-confident. 

"There are no bigger concerns. It was just in this game we tried to change the momentum."

Chelsea are yet to lose on the road under Tuchel in the Premier League (W3 D2).

The Palace clash comes after a dramatic week for the Blues, with the Porto win following up a shock 5-2 home reverse against West Brom.

Tuchel is keen to ensure his players do not get too up or down based on one result.

He added: "It's my job to learn every day and from every game, from every situation we have to face. 

"I don't have a big conclusion after the two games with the down and up we had in terms of results. 

"It's important to share experiences and make my experiences with the team. It's the first time we lost, a big loss, an unexpected loss in a weird game. 

"We have a lot of positives together so we needed to adapt and react to it. 

"I'm very happy we bounced back immediately. We were unlucky in some situations in the game. It's important for us now that we went through this. 

"Hopefully we can start a winning streak again."

Palace have kept five clean sheets in the Premier League at Selhurst Park since the turn of the year, two more than in the entirety of 2020.

But manager Roy Hodgson has lost six consecutive Premier League matches against Chelsea. 

The only opponent he has lost seven consecutive games against as a manager in the competition is Tottenham in a run that lasted between 2011 and 2019.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel admitted Kai Havertz and Timo Werner were replaced following underwhelming performances in Wednesday's Champions League success against Porto.

Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell scored as Chelsea drew first blood against Portuguese outfit Porto in the quarter-final tie with a 2-0 victory in Seville midweek.

It was a necessary response for Tuchel, whose 10-man Chelsea were sensationally humbled 5-2 by lowly West Brom in the Premier League last time out.

But Chelsea did not have it all their own way against Porto, who were the better side for periods of the game and only just second best in terms of expected goals (xG) – 1.8 to 1.7 in the former's favour.

Havertz and Werner particularly struggled, the German duo replaced by Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic with 25 minutes remaining, and Tuchel explained his changes.

In his last 29 games in all competitions, Werner has missed 20 big chances, with an xG of 10.5 and 3.5 shot conversion rate.

"I accepted that it was a tough match for Timo and for Kai today," Tuchel told reporters after Chelsea won consecutive away knockout fixtures in the Champions League for the first time since 2004. "They did not have their best day but we did not deliver so well [for them].

"The connection between the deep seven players that we needed for the build-up and the front three, we lost a bit the connection to them.

"The balls we delivered were not the best balls and I could feel our two German players up front, Kai and Timo, did not play on their highest level today so I wanted to have an impact from the bench."

No side has conceded fewer goals (two) or kept more clean sheets (seven) in this season's Champions League than Chelsea (level with Manchester City on both counts).

Since Tuchel's first game in charge of Chelsea (January 27), no goalkeeper playing for a top-five European side has kept more clean sheets in all competitions than Edouard Mendy (10).

Tuchel added: "Christian has a good momentum, Oli has waited long and has good experience and memories of this stadium. We wanted to give the sign that we keep on going [in the game].

"This is the mentality in general that I like about this club and this team and that we want to implement. Once you lead, it is very hard to not play with the mentality of having something to lose. You want to keep what you have.

"But you need to go to try to win the next half and go and try to win the next duels and try to score the next goal. The best way to defend is to attack. The best way to impress the opponents is to have ball possession to be couraged and to always be a threat.

"I am happy about the impact of our substitutions. It is absolutely necessary that we have this bond between the players and we have this impact from the bench physically, but also with quality. That's why we are super happy with a big win today. The job is half done and we are aware of that and we need another top performance on Tuesday."

Kai Havertz says things are now "going well" for him at Chelsea after acknowledging his start to life in England was "tough".

The 21-year-old Germany international was a big-money signing for the Premier League club prior to the start of the season, having made a big impact in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen.

Havertz failed to reproduce the same form in England, though, and his struggles did not help the team in the first half of the season as head coach Frank Lampard was sacked in January.

However, new boss Thomas Tuchel has overseen a 14-game unbeaten run to take Chelsea into the top four in the league and through to the Champions League quarter-finals.

Now, Havertz, who set up Serge Gnabry's winner in Germany's 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Romania on Sunday, is enjoying his football under Tuchel and looking forward to a positive end to the season. 

"It's been a tough season," he told reporters. "I know things haven't been going smoothly but I think that's normal when you first go abroad. It takes half a year or longer to adjust.

"Things are going well right now so I don't want to overthink those negative impressions from the past. I am positive and hope that the next weeks will be every bit as good."

But Havertz, who registered 10 goal involvements (five goals, five assists) in 24 games across all competitions under Lampard, is yet to score or assist for Tuchel.

The forward has registered more shots per 90 minutes in eight appearances since his compatriot took over (2.3, up from 1.4), but he is creating fewer chances (1.2, down from 1.4).

Havertz was still the subject of particular praise from Tuchel following a 2-0 victory over Everton earlier this month.

The former Leverkusen star was involved in both goals, Ben Godfrey turning a shot into his own net for the opener before Jorginho converted a penalty won by the 21-year-old.

Havertz also had 53 touches and won five of his seven duels.

The Chelsea man hopes his fortunes are changing and believes the return of something approaching normality will help with the planned easing of coronavirus restrictions.

"It has been difficult to change everything," Havertz added. "It's hard for me but I've been here for seven months and getting used to the place now.

"I haven't seen much of the country or the city of London. Every day I just go to training and then come back and spend the rest of the day at home.

"It's not easy but people have more problems than me. I do what I love; I play football and that’s my job right now. Hopefully there will be a big change soon and then I hope the experience in England will be much better with fans and everything."

Not for the first time during his run as a Sky Sports pundit, Roy Keane looked like he might combust. 

Manchester City had raced into a 3-0 lead against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, piling more pressure on under-fire boss Frank Lampard, but Keane had an expensively assembled attack in his crosshairs. 

"The attacking players need to show up," he said of a line-up boasting big money close-season arrivals Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner. Kai Havertz could only make the bench. 

"We spoke before the game, we said they have a lot of quality, but to me they don't look like they're up to it. What do Chelsea need? 

"They need a miracle to get back into this game. They've been shocking, particularly the attacking players." 

Alongside him, former Liverpool great Graeme Souness had an issue with Ziyech's tracking back – or lack thereof – on Kevin De Bruyne's goal. 

"Just watch Ziyech, he takes the free-kick, he wanders in and watch him. Big players don’t act like that," he said. "Sprint back as fast as you possibly can, you don't stand and watch the game like this. 

"I'm sure when Frank sees that, he'll point out to Ziyech that you cannot do that in our football."

When Lampard was sacked a little over three weeks later, his uncle Harry Redknapp was similarly and more bluntly parochial about the biggest story in "our football".

"When you look at the players, people say he's spent all this money, did he bring the players in? Did he bring the Germans in?" he rhetorically asked on talkSPORT.

"The two German players have been massive disappointments, massive. I'm not even sure Timo Werner is cut out for Premier League football, the physical side is too much for him."

Perhaps it is a function of the frequent changes in Chelsea's dugout that narratives around goodies and baddies are so hastily constructed. Remember Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard as the "three rats" after Jose Mourinho's 2015 demise?

In that context, the role Ziyech and the two Germans played in Thomas Tuchel's Blues comprehensively downing Atletico Madrid gave a stark demonstration how much Werner and Havertz's compatriot has entirely changed the mood and trajectory of this talented team.

KAI HOPES

It said much of Havertz's woes since joining from Bayer Leverkusen for an initial £72million that Redknapp didn't actually use his name when he was the focus of his opprobrium. 

One Premier League goal set against 12 in his final Bundesliga campaign suggests there is still plenty of ground to make up, but in a couple of blurring seconds, Havertz showed exactly what made him one of the most sought-after talents in Europe. 

He was alert to move in front of Kieran Trippier and bring the ball under his spell. In that instant, Atleti were on the receiving end of the sort of lethal counter-attack that has become their Champions League calling card. 

Then it was time to marvel at the pace, power and poise as he approached halfway before shovelling possession into Werner's path. 

Under Tuchel, Havertz's shots per 90 minutes are up 2.3 from 1.4. The goals will surely come, but for now he had played his supporting role to perfection.

TURNING ON THE AFTER-WERNERS

However much Havertz will be keen to hit the back of the net, his desire must pale next to Werner's.

The former RB Leipzig star was simmering with intent from early on against Atleti, bustling in behind their defence early on.

That famous pace was put to its best use when he galloped onto Havertz's 34th-minute pass. Head up and on high alert, Werner assessed the scene, took a touch with the outside of his right foot and then lined up a low cross with his left.

The 25-year-old had fired wide a little earlier after Ziyech missed a kick, but he backed his team-mate to get it right this time.

Werner drew a brilliant save from Jan Oblak early in the second half and lashed into the side netting after his speed had again tormented Atleti.

Part of a collective also going at full tilt, he only has one goal under Tuchel so far, but 10 overall and seven assists this term are more goal involvements than any other Chelsea player in 2020-21.

There lies one of the joys of this 13-match unbeaten run for Tuchel. He has had a watertight defence in place from the get-go. Now, an all-star attack is just starting to shine.

HAKIM LIVING THE DREAM AGAIN

When he delighted on Ajax's phenomenal run to the semi-finals in 2018-19, Ziyech showed he loved this stage. 

He particularly loves to grace it with his sumptuous left foot, but Werner's cross was so immediate and so precise, he had to stick his weaker right on the end of it. 

Oblak could not keep the shot out and four of Ziyech's Champions League goals have arrived against Spanish opposition. Roll on Real Madrid in the quarters? 

The 27-year-old was evidently enjoying himself when he jinked into space on halfway and released Werner early in the second period – his three key passes in the match level best for Chelsea alongside Reece James, whose deliveries from right-back were majestic.

That was actually a touch under recent par for Ziyech, who is creating an average of 3.6 chances per game in the Tuchel era – taking his 2.4 under Lampard up a notch. 

By the time substitute Emerson Palmieri thundered home in stoppage time to seal a 3-0 aggregate triumph, there could be no question Chelsea's attacking stars had shown up. 

Maybe they could go all the way – a Champions League miracle form the rubble of the Lampard era. 

Thomas Tuchel defended picking goal-shy Kai Havertz to lead his attack after Chelsea drew a blank at Leeds United.

The 0-0 draw at Elland Road could prove costly in fourth-placed Chelsea's attempt to qualify for next season's Champions League, with West Ham, Everton and Tottenham in pursuit.

Havertz was a free-scoring player from an attacking midfield berth with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, which drew Chelsea's attention and led to him arriving at Stamford Bridge last September.

But he has not carried that form over into the Premier League and came into the clash with Leeds having scored just once in 20 games in the competition. After failing to score again, his shot conversion rate this season dipped to 5.56 per cent.

Tuchel, however, decided that Chelsea were well equipped to find a breakthrough against Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds with Germany international Havertz spearheading their attack.

Asked about Havertz playing a 'false nine' role, Tuchel disputed that description and said: "I think he's pretty much a nine. I don't think he's a false number nine.

"He is a nine because he likes to be in the high positions, for him it's not always necessary to drop to number 10 in turn.

"For me, his biggest strength is he loves to be in the high position and he loves to arrive in the box, in the six-yard box even, he loves to be there and likes to have the last touch."

Havertz had four goal attempts, the most he has had in a Premier League game, but the 21-year-old could not apply a clinical finishing touch to his chances.

"Sometimes it's like this," Tuchel told BT Sport.

"As long as we have chances, as long as we have a lot of touches in the box and don't concede too many chances, the results will be there.

"There were enough chances. I don't want to be too harsh."

Leeds had only 38.1 per cent of possession, the lowest they have recorded in any of their 120 league games under Bielsa's leadership. Chelsea bossed the ball but lacked the required cutting edge.

Olivier Giroud, the second highest scorer in the history of the French national team, sat on the bench throughout, with Tuchel perhaps saving the target man for the midweek Champions League home clash with Atletico Madrid.

Timo Werner only came on after the midway point in the second half.

"It happens sometimes that it's hard to score, that you miss some big chances, and you go out with a zero-zero," Tuchel added.

On the plus side, Tuchel is now unbeaten in 12 games since taking over from Frank Lampard, the joint-longest unbeaten start by a manager in the club’s history, matching Luiz Felipe Scolari's tally.

Scolari did not last long at Chelsea, but Tuchel will hope to, and he believes the reaction from his players pointed to their ambition to succeed.

"The boys are disappointed in the dressing room which is a good sign," Tuchel said. "We draw away, we played a good game, but everybody's disappointed which is good."

Kai Havertz admits he's had a difficult start to life with Chelsea since his off-season move and that many people still have doubts about him.

The 21-year-old Germany international joined Chelsea in September after a blistering 2019-20 campaign with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.

But Havertz has struggled to make the expected impact, coming in and out of the side, making 29 appearances in all competitions and only scoring one Premier League goal.

Havertz has only made 13 Premier League starts, although he played a key part in Chelsea's opening goal, named as a Ben Godfrey own goal, in the 2-0 win over Everton on Monday.

"Yes, it is difficult to say [if it is my best performance for Chelsea] but the first few months were difficult for me," Havertz told Chelsea's 5th Stand app.

"I hope that I will get a lot of confidence now and carry on like this. Of course, it wasn't easy to come here where everything was new.

Thomas Tuchel was full of praise for Kai Havertz after the Germany international's star turn in Monday's 2-0 win over Everton. 

Havertz was a big-money signing by the Premier League club prior to the start of the season, having impressed in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen in recent years. 

However, after a solid beginning to his career at Stamford Bridge, the 21-year-old has found it tough going in recent months, not aided by contracting coronavirus in November. 

Prior to the win over Everton at Stamford Bridge, Havertz had scored just once and created only two assists in 20 top-flight appearances. 

But he was instrumental as Chelsea consolidated their place in the top four.

It was Havertz's neat first-time effort from a low cross forced Ben Godfrey into a first-half own goal, before he drew a foul from Jordan Pickford after the break, giving Jorginho the opportunity to stroke home his sixth successful spot-kick of the Premier League season.

The display gave Chelsea fans a tantalising glimpse of what Havertz can offer and Tuchel is looking forward to more as his adaptation to English football continues. 

"I am very happy with his performance," the former Paris Saint-Germain boss told a media conference. 

"There is no doubt about his quality, talent and character. He needs to adapt to the Premier League and to the club where we play to win every game and have the highest standards.

"I think he did it today excellently, he got in good positions and used his potential to accelerate our game and to increase the touches in the box responsible for assists, to take responsibility to finish himself.

"This is what we want from him."

The result extended Tuchel's unbeaten run as Chelsea boss to 11 matches after he took over from Frank Lampard on January 26. 

Only Maurizio Sarri (12 with Chelsea in 2018-19) and Frank Clark (11 with Nottingham Forest in 1994-95) have begun their Premier League managerial careers with a longer unbeaten run than the German. 

It also meant he became the first manager in Premier League history to oversee clean sheets in his first five home games in charge.

Indeed, the Blues have now kept five consecutive home clean sheets in the league for the first time since January 2015. 

The win cemented their position inside the Premier League's top four – two points ahead of fifth-placed West Ham – and Tuchel said his side's superb form is down to a "positive energy" around the club.

"If you play maybe as a hobby or with friends, if you share special moments, good results, a hard fight, this is what brings you together, lifts you up to a special place and gives you energy," he explained.

"I truly believe that this sport is about team effort. I can feel the strong bond between the players; they are not talking about it but they live it in training and this is what you see on the pitch.

"I can feel it all the time. I can feel the support and I feel the positive energy from everybody around the team towards my staff.

"Everybody is doing everything in a really positive atmosphere and we need this to continue."

Thomas Tuchel is confident Chelsea will get to see the best of the "incredibly talented" Kai Havertz but warned there is no quick fix to help him reach his full potential. 

Havertz was a big-money signing by the Premier League club prior to the start of the season, having starred in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen in recent years. 

However, after a solid beginning to his career at Stamford Bridge, the 21-year-old has found it tough going in recent months, not aided by contracting coronavirus in November. 

Having scored one goal and set up another in his opening five league games, Havertz has managed just one solitary assist since, creating a total of 13 chances in his 18 appearances, albeit only 12 of those have been starts. 

The Germany international has missed Chelsea's previous three games through injury and while Monday's clash with Newcastle United may come too soon, Tuchel is willing to be patient with his compatriot. 

"I'm pretty sure we will see him," he replied when asked if Chelsea will see the same Havertz who dazzled for Leverkusen.  

"It takes time, there is no short answer – if there was, I'd go and talk to him in that way to bring out his full potential. What we know and can rely on is that all this potential is in him and it's logical that he can show it on the pitch.  

"For every transfer, for every change of club for the player, it's different. Sometimes it needs a little more time to adapt, sometimes it can be quick, sometimes it can be between one match and another, sometimes a process.  

"All we can do is push him, support him, give him what he needs. We figure this out with us right now. 

"He had a pretty good start with us, he had good matches, and I have the feeling that I see a guy that is totally clear, totally self-aware, very humble and incredibly talented. There are no doubts that he will show this – the sooner the better. 

"Now, unfortunately, he missed some training sessions and games for us, but hopefully he can come back in the next few days, because I'm absolutely convinced he will have a big impact at this club."

Tuchel appreciates he is not short of options within his squad, particularly in midfield where Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic are seemingly vying for two positions. There is also Billy Gilmour too, showing the strength in depth at Chelsea.

The former Paris Saint-Germain coach is pleased with the competition for places and understands he will have to manage expectations when it comes to first-team minutes.

"If we have difficult decisions to make, everything is good as we have a full squad available," Tuchel said.

"If I have a difficult decision to make, it's my job to manage them. It's my job to trust also the guy from the bench. Is it possible to achieve our goal with 12, 13, 14 players? No, it's simply not possible. 

"To have the three guys is a big gift for me for the two positions. To have a fourth guy like Billy Gilmour is absolutely necessary on this kind of level we expect from us, what the supporters also expect from the team. 

"We need exactly this kind of quality and I'm not worried about the management, because I feel a group that is strong, I feel a bond between the players.

"Yes, we will have to prove it when things become a bit difficult, a bit complicated. But, until today, I feel a very good atmosphere, and it's my job to manage that, to focus on that and create it. 

"They can be competitive with each other but we need to be allies, need to be close and understand this is an effort of the whole team."

Tuchel confirmed Timo Werner is expected to be back to face Newcastle, while Thiago Silva is targeting a return to action against Southampton on February 20.

The game will mark a first for the Chelsea boss, who has never previously managed a top-flight match on a Monday. His last match in any competition on that day was back in August 2016, when he led Borussia Dortmund to a 3-0 win in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.

Michael Ballack has challenged Kai Havertz to "take on the fight" and make sure his slow start at Chelsea is soon forgotten.

Havertz became Chelsea's most expensive outfield player in September when he joined for around £70million from Bayer Leverkusen, but there has been little return on that investment.

He has appeared in 18 Premier League games, starting 12 times, but has just one goal and two assists to date.

The Germany midfielder has only created one goalscoring opportunity defined by Opta as a 'big chance', and he has been substituted off eight times already.

In 30 Bundesliga games for Leverkusen last term, Havertz scored 12 times, provided six assists and created 15 big chances.

Ballack, who had two spells with Leverkusen and also spent four years at Chelsea, can appreciate the difficulty Havertz has found in adapting to a different league and said the price tag "isn't his fault".

His view is that Chelsea must help Havertz, but that the 21-year-old must also help himself.

"It is important for Chelsea to understand that if you buy a player with that kind of potential, then you have to give him time, bit by bit," Ballack told Stats Perform News.

"So he can be in that role and that the team can be built around him.

"At the moment there are too many players that fight for many positions. There are only a few players that are so to speak 'untouchable'.

"Therefore he now faces a normal competitive scenario. It just depends on him, if he is able to win it.

"He needs that will, but if he sees it and takes on the fight then he will be able to get that spot as he has exceptional football qualities.

"However it is a different level than at Leverkusen. Therefore he has to live with it."

Germany great Ballack, 44, believes the recent arrival of head coach Thomas Tuchel to replace Frank Lampard could help Havertz find his feet in England.

The failure of Havertz and Timo Werner to make an instant impact at Chelsea no doubt contributed to Lampard losing his job, given both were major acquisitions and neither has lived up to expectations.

Ballack says fellow German Tuchel will be able to "communicate exceptionally" with Havertz, pointing to the style of Chelsea's play this season as being a factor in why the once-marauding Bundesliga star has proven less effective in the Premier League.

"At Leverkusen, they forced the game onto him with a lot of freedom. He didn't have to chase the ball and was used to attack," Ballack said.

"He probably has some issues now with the rhythm. That means, the game is a bit different. He now also has to work back and work harder on pressuring the opponent."

Werner, meanwhile, was bought in the expectation he would be a regular goalscorer, yet he last netted in the Premier League on November 7, in a 4-1 win over Sheffield United.

This weekend sees Chelsea play the South Yorkshire side again, and Ballack is sure former RB Leipzig frontman Werner is on the brink of getting it right in front of goal. 

"Timo started off pretty well. Of course, if you aren't scoring as a striker, then it is hard on the self-confidence," Ballack said.

"I believe, that it is very hard for him overall, as he was used to playing differently at Leipzig.

"He had a lot more space in front of him. Chelsea is the kind of team that has a lot of ball possession, wanting to dominate the opponent. Maybe even more so with Tuchel."

As with Havertz, Ballack suggests the onus is on Werner to adapt and find a way to become a greater threat to defences.

"Maybe he has to work on his playing style a little bit or try to get himself into better positions," Ballack said.

"As a striker you are depending on your fellow players to find you and if the [goal drought] breaks, then he will be able to find his old form.

"He used to have good phases with the national team, using his physical presence and power to break down on the wing.

"So when the [drought] breaks, then things will go better again."

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