Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel and Liverpool's Pep Lijnders were in agreement as they backed UEFA's decision to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg.

Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday and that conflict escalated on Friday, with reports suggesting the fighting has now reached the capital of Kiev.

In response, many countries and organisations around the world have imposed sanctions on Russia, as well as Russian entities and individuals.

UEFA acted by moving the Champions League final to the Stade de France in Paris, a decision that The Russian Football Union (RFU) denounced, accusing UEFA of failing to detach sport from politics.

But Tuchel and Liverpool assistant Lijnders, whose sides face off in the EFL Cup final on Sunday, both shared the same opinion that it was the only decision to take.

When asked about moving the Champions League final, Tuchel – whose side won the competition last season – responded: "Yes. A clear yes, and sadly I think it's the worse reason to change a location. 

"The absolutely worst reason. We feel horrible about it in general, it clouds our minds and focus, of course. We can absolutely understand the decision.

"At the moment, we don't think so much about it [the Champions League final]. It's nice you mentioned it and it's like this the last two [years] because of coronavirus. We thought that this was not good news and now we have even worse news.

"There are things more important the focus from us, in general, sporting and globally speaking is not on the [Champions League] final."

Lijnders also echoed Tuchel's thoughts, telling reporters: "What happens at the moment is truly awful, so serious, and as a football coach sitting here in front of sports journalists it is not a time to speak my personal opinion. 

"It doesn't feel appropriate. What I can say is I'm a father, a brother, a son, a human being, a husband. It's hard for all those people there and it's just really frightening at the moment. 

"And of course it's the right decision to move the Champions League final. I think each war is a true disappointment for human kind."

Liverpool's "one club mentality" has been proven by their run to the EFL Cup final, according to Jurgen Klopp's assistant Pep Lijnders.

Reds assistant coach Lijnders has taken all of the pre-match news conferences ahead of EFL Cup games this season and Liverpool saw no reason to break with that tradition ahead of Sunday's clash with Chelsea at Wembley.

It will be the third major final between the sides, with Chelsea winning the previous two meetings – 3-2 in the 2004-05 EFL Cup and 2-1 in the 2011-12 FA Cup.

Liverpool, however, are in the hunt for a record ninth EFL Cup crown, with their last success in the competition coming in 2012 via a penalty shoot-out win over Cardiff City. This is their 13th final in the competition – at least four more than any other side – though their first since 2016, when they lost to Manchester City.

Lijnders believes Liverpool have blended youth and experience perfectly throughout their run to Wembley, and thinks this is a sign the Reds are now a truly elite club.

"We have tradition in both, history in both [cup competitions]," he said.

"This is a competition where we want to bring young talent to showcase, that's really important.

"If you look at the best teams in the world, what do they have in common? It is the one club mentality and this journey in the EFL Cup shows we have exactly that.

"Now we are two days away from a final and we want to go into it with all we have, make it a proper game, we can't wait of course to go to Wembley, see all the fans, hear them, feel them.

"For the whole club it is a big compliment. This competition is so much more than just the first team, it was a proper compliment to our academy as well.

"We have to be spot on but we really look forward to it. We don't want to be the best team in the world, but we want to be the team that is capable of the best teams in the world."

Lijnders has come more into the foreground this season, at least in terms of his media duties, but he emphasised the importance of Klopp's entire backroom team as Liverpool aim to win a third major trophy under the German.

"Jurgen is so much more than a colleague, I am really grateful and happy with the way we work together," Lijnders added.

"It's not just me and him, it's so much more backroom staff who constantly are in our ears to make decisions or put us to the right path. Our togetherness comes from something.

"If you have a group of staff that show leadership it is probably the most powerful tool, we want our team to see how we are and it is important that they see that the manager, assistant manager, the other assistants, all of us are so close. There's a team behind the team and a manager is as good as the team behind the team."

Liverpool, however, will not be changing their routine just because they are playing in a final.

"When we started this project, we came to the conclusion that the way to be successful was just to focus on the next game," Lijnders said.

"Our group created the mentality that each next game was a final, or we could never have reached the levels we reached. We see each game literally as a final so nothing changes. We really see each game as a final, believe me."

It was a sentiment echoed by captain Jordan Henderson, who said: "Nothing different to what I normally do. Yes, it's a cup final, you get everything around that, but you have to treat it as any other game. We'll give everything, hopefully that's enough for us to win the trophy."

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel suggested Liverpool are slight favourites ahead of the EFL Cup final, but says it will be a "pleasure" to face off against his compatriot Jurgen Klopp.

Chelsea are facing the Reds in a major final for the third time in their history - excluding the Community Shield and the UEFA Super Cup - with the Blues winning on both previous occasions, 3-2 in the 2005 EFL Cup final and 2-1 in 2012's FA Cup showpiece. 

But with Liverpool on a run of nine consecutive wins in all competitions and on the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, Tuchel believes that Klopp's team should be considered slight favourites on Sunday.

"I think maybe 50 to 55 per cent, they are the favourites, because of their recent form and their recent results", the 48-year-old said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"It's a big challenge, a big occasion, and we feel competitive. It's a pleasure to meet Jurgen in a final at Wembley. We are very grateful for the chance.

"Playing against teams coached by Jurgen is not only about pleasure, because they give you a very hard time!

"But we have things to draw on, we have experienced tight matches against Liverpool, I think the last three were draws. 

"That won't happen this time, there will be a winner somehow, but we know what it takes in a tough match against them, and we feel confident that we have what it takes. 

"It's the same for them, and it's nice to have a match like this in a final."

Sunday's outing will represent Chelsea's ninth final appearance in the competition's history, and the Blues have won the EFL Cup on five occasions, with only Manchester City and Liverpool (both eight) posting more triumphs.

Tuchel was also asked about the condition of striker Romelu Lukaku, who was dropped for Chelsea's 2-0 Champions League victory over Lille, after he managed just seven touches in a 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace.

 

The German boss questioned whether too much focus has been placed on Lukaku in recent weeks, and refused to engage with speculation that he was unsettled.

"I would say [he has been] good, like everybody else," Tuchel responded when asked about the Belgium striker. 

"You know, I know, he's an important player, if you pay a lot of money these days for one single player there's a lot of focus on the player. Sometimes it's not fair, sometimes it's a bit too much.

"I did not read the headlines. This is maybe the best thing to do. I trust my players and their focus.

"What other choice is there? There is no transfer period right now and everybody is hugely involved in the goals that we want to achieve together.

"The truth is we can only achieve them together, and we can only achieve them with a strong Romelu, a strong Jorginho, a strong everybody."

Liverpool will monitor the fitness of Diogo Jota ahead of their EFL Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday, but Reds assistant manager Pep Ljinders confirmed Roberto Firmino is out of contention.

Jota and Firmino suffered knocks against Inter in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on February 16, and subsequently missed Premier League wins over Norwich City and Leeds United.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp conceded that the pair were both doubts for the final before the Leeds' game, in which fellow attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane netted two goals each.

Ljinders provided another update on the duo on Friday as he offered faint hope that Jota could play some part against Thomas Tuchel's men.

"Bobby [Firmino] we will have to see in the next two days, he's pushing himself really hard, but he will not be available for the final, to reach the squad," Ljinders said.
 
"We hope he will be back really soon because you all see and feel how important he is for our way of playing. [We are] happy that he's pushing himself, hopefully he's soon back.
 
"Jota, there has been so far no reaction on the things he did – the straight-line running, the little ball work he did, so that's a good sign. He isn't ruled out but it will still be a challenge."

The Reds will be hoping Jota can beat the clock to feature, given he could become only the second ever Liverpool player to score in each of the quarter-final, semi-final and final of the competition in a single season (replays included), after Kenny Dalglish in 1980-81.

Nevertheless, Klopp's side will be left in capable hands even without Jota, with new boy Luis Diaz, Salah and Mane to call upon in the frontline.

Mane has scored eight goals against Chelsea in all competitions, only netting more in his career in England against Crystal Palace (13), while Salah leads the Premier League scoring charts with 19 this term.

The Senegal international, however, is yet to score an EFL Cup goal for the Reds in three previous appearances for them in the competition, the most recent of which was against Chelsea in the 2018-19 third round.

Thomas Tuchel hopes to have a fully-fit Chelsea squad for the EFL Cup final against Liverpool after Hakim Ziyech and Mateo Kovacic recovered from knocks, while Reece James could also return.

Ziyech and Kovacic were both doubtful for the Wembley showpiece after picking up injuries in Chelsea's routine 2-0 Champions League win over Lille in midweek, while James has not appeared since December 29.

Chelsea are seeking their fourth trophy under Tuchel, having already won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Blues will also be the first team in English football history to compete in one of the major domestic cup finals (League Cup/FA Cup) in six consecutive campaigns on Sunday, having reached FA Cup finals in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021, and EFL Cup finals in 2019 and 2022.

The Chelsea head coach's cause has been aided by the return of several key figures ahead of the clash with Jurgen Klopp's side.

"We had training today with everybody out on the pitch, except for Ben Chilwell," Tuchel said at Friday's pre-match news conference. "It's brilliant news.

"Both [Ziyech and Kovacic] are okay, today they were not out training with separate programmes, everybody joined in with team training.

"We have no [bad] reactions, only positive reactions. I hope it will stay like this. We have another training session tomorrow, but we hope to have everybody available."

James recorded four goals and five assists in the first half of the Premier League season, and could provide another boost for Tuchel, who remains excited by the prospect of the wing-back's return. 

However, the German boss conceded that he was unsure whether James would be fit enough to start at Wembley.

"He looked brilliant in the last two training sessions," he added. "Let's wait another session and let's see if I'm crazy enough to put him on the pitch!"

Tuchel was guarded as to which of his goalkeepers would start against the Reds, with Kepa Arrizabalaga starting all five matches in the competition so far, while Edouard Mendy has starred in trophy wins for both club and country in 2022.

Asked about the goalkeeper decision, Tuchel responded: "I will not tell you. I will take the decision later. 

"Kepa played in the Club World Cup semi-final and brought us to the final, but then we took the decision to go with Edou for the final, who was back from the Africa Cup of Nations.

"The last decision will be taken after training, as always. Kepa did fantastic in the period that we had to be without Edou, so it's [both] an uncomfortable and very comfortable situation to be in."

Kepa refused to be substituted as Chelsea were beaten on their last EFL Cup final appearance, losing on penalties to Manchester City in 2019 under Maurizio Sarri.

But the goalkeeper has impressed with two clean sheets in four league appearances during Mendy's recent stint on international duty, leaving Tuchel with options heading into the domestic final.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk hailed Joel Matip after both men found the net in a 6-0 thrashing of Leeds United, saying he wishes he had his defensive partner's technical ability.

Between two Mohamed Salah penalties, Matip strode forward to open his account for the season with a superb goal, while Van Dijk later completed the scoring after Sadio Mane had struck twice against the strugglers.

The dominant victory moved Jurgen Klopp's men to within three points of the Premier League summit, while Van Dijk and Matip contributed to Liverpool's 14th Premier League clean sheet of the campaign – only leaders Manchester City (15) have more.

However, it was Matip's dribbling ability that came in for praise from his partner, after the German defender's fantastic goal.

"It [dribbling out from the back] is a big quality of his," Van Dijk told the club's website after the win. "I wish I had that quality at times.

"He just can go without any fear at all and hope for the best a little bit.

"But he has that quality. It's a big strength of his and obviously it's useful because it drags other players from their position. Today, obviously, the space was there to make that run and finish it off. 

"I said to him before the game I felt it coming because he had an assist for Diogo [Jota, in a recent 2-0 win over Leicester] and I said, 'A goal is next!'

"So I'm obviously very happy for him."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admitted his side will have to win virtually all of their Premier League games to stand a chance of winning the title after a 6-0 hammering of Leeds United.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both hit doubles against Marcelo Bielsa's strugglers, while central defenders Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk joined them on the scoreboard as the Reds moved to within three points of leaders Manchester City. 

The gap between the Premier League's top two is now at its shortest since Christmas Day, when it also stood at three points, while Liverpool are unbeaten in 26 home matches in all competitions.

However, speaking to the BBC after the win, Klopp was keen to stress that the Reds will have to be near-perfect in order to push City close, and shifted his attention to Sunday's EFL Cup final against Chelsea.

"We have 10 days until we play the next league game, and we have two games in between, in completely different competitions," the head coach said.

"One is a final [against Chelsea] and the other a last 16 [the FA Cup fifth-round clash with Norwich City]. They will be different games, and we have to be ready for them.

"It [the gap] is three points until the weekend, and then City will probably win, and it will be six points. 

"If we win all our games, pretty much, there will be a chance for us.

"For people outside [of the club], it is better to have a three or six-point gap than to have a 20 or 30-point gap, so it is more exciting, but we have to win a lot of games against difficult opponents, and that will be a tricky task. 

"We will give it a try."

Mohamed Salah scored two penalties as Liverpool closed to within three points of Premier League leaders Manchester City with a 6-0 hammering of Leeds United at Anfield.

Salah netted either side of Joel Matip's superb strike to give Jurgen Klopp's team a comfortable advantage, before Sadio Mane added a late double of his own and Virgil van Dijk completed the scoring.

The stunning victory gives Liverpool renewed hope of catching Pep Guardiola's league leaders, who lost at home to Tottenham on Saturday and must still welcome the Reds to the Etihad Stadium.

City could have expected few favours from Leeds, however, with Marcelo Bielsa's men firmly in a relegation scrap with the league's most porous defence.

After a high-octane opening, Liverpool were awarded a 13th-minute spot-kick when Stuart Dallas handled a cross, allowing Salah to fire into the bottom corner.

Raphinha saw a tap-in ruled out for offside as Leeds looked to respond, but they found themselves two down after half an hour when Matip surged forward from the back, playing a one-two with Salah before thumping home his first goal of the campaign.

Rampant Liverpool earned a second penalty moments later, when Luke Ayling brought down Mane. Salah elected to smash the ball into the top corner this time, scoring two penalties in a single game at home to Leeds for a second season running.

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid has often felt like a never-ending transfer saga, but it appears a resolution might now be in sight.

Los Blancos are apparently confident of getting the Paris Saint-Germain star in 2022 even though their performance did not impress him in the Champions League.

However, Madrid do have a back-up plan.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CONFIDENT ON MBAPPE BUT MANE IS PLAN B

Real Madrid believe they will win the battle to sign Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2022.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are preparing to announce the deal at the end of the season, according to Goal.

However, should their efforts to sign Mbappe or Erling Haaland fail, Madrid have a back-up plan: Fichajes claims they will submit an offer for Sadio Mane.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are interested in signing Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, according to television show El Chiringuito.

Manchester United have been quoted €75million (£62.5m) for RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku, Bild says.

- Meanwhile, United striker Edinson Cavani is ready to listen to an offer to join Botafogo when his contract expires, Goal claims.

- According to Sport, Tottenham have submitted the firmest offer to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, but Barcelona and Inter are also interested.

Milan are resigned to losing Franck Kessie after this season and could replace him with Renato Sanches, Tuttosport says.

UEFA has decided to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg, according to the BBC. The game could be held in London.

Romelu Lukaku was an unused substitute in Chelsea's win over Lille because Thomas Tuchel wanted to keep him out of "the next fire". 

Lukaku was the subject of intense criticism following his display in the 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday. 

The Belgium striker managed just seven touches – the fewest of any player to complete 90 minutes in a single top-flight game since Opta has the data available (2003-04) 

Kai Havertz led the line against Lille instead of Lukaku and the Germany international opened the scoring in the first leg of the last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. 

Christian Pulisic wrapped up the win for the Blues, with Tuchel pleased Lukaku was able to escape the spotlight. 

"It was not the moment after the match where everybody was focused on the few touches that we had to put him right into the next fire. It was the moment to take a step back. That was the decision and that's it," said Tuchel. 

"You can clearly see we have a strong win and strong performance. It was a tough match and almost every question is about Romelu. The focus is huge. There were nine other players who did not play. 

"We should never forget we consider this sport a team sport and the 11 guys who play do everything to commit fully to what we plan and commit fully to their team-mates. Those on the bench have to do the same and this is how it works. 

"Especially at Chelsea and especially for us and this is how we win football matches." 

Tuchel said prior to kick-off that Lukaku had been left out because he was "exhausted", though in his post-match news conference he clarified his comments. 

The German made it clear Lukaku has every chance of being selected for the EFL Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday. 

"Every game is different. The focus today was on intensity and a high-speed game. It was about hard work against the ball, off the ball and having intensive teamwork," said Tuchel. 

"Romelu struggled in the last few games a little bit to deliver that. That's what I meant when I felt him a bit tired both mentally and physically. 

"Since the Liverpool game [he missed on January 2], he started every match and there were some extra times as well. Today, we went for three other players with Kai in great shape, very confident and giving a lot of work rate and high-intensity metres for the team. 

"Yes, for the team, the decision doesn't need to be made today but can be in the next four days. He [Lukaku] has every chance to play." 

Since the Liverpool game, only Antonio Rudiger (960) has played more minutes for Chelsea in all competitions than Lukaku (861 – level with Cesar Azpilicueta). 

Thomas Tuchel regretted not substituting Mateo Kovacic earlier in Chelsea's win over Lille but hopes the midfielder and Hakim Ziyech will be fit for the EFL Cup final. 

Kovacic sustained an injury early in the second half of the Blues' 2-0 last-16 first-leg victory at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek replacing him in the 51st minute. 

Ziyech also hobbled off before the hour mark after appearing to hurt his ankle, casting doubt over whether the pair will be available for Sunday's meeting with Liverpool at Wembley. 

Chelsea took the lead through Kai Havertz in the eighth minute and added to their tally through Christian Pulisic in the 63rd minute, making them the first English team to win five straight home matches without conceding in Europe's premier club competition.

However, Tuchel was frustrated he did not keep Kovacic out of harm's way by taking him off earlier. 

"I should've substituted Kova earlier at half-time so we could've saved one more change. I didn't see Hakim's injury and did not speak to the doctor yet. I hope it's not too bad," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"It's a little bit the story of the season, that almost every game or every other game we do substitutions only because of injuries and not tactical reasons. It's following us. 

"Sunday is good because it's a lot of days for us to recover and be ready. In general, we don't like to have as many injuries and would like to have more impact from the bench in a tactical matter. But it is what it is. I hope the guys will be ready for Sunday." 

N'Golo Kante impressed at the heart of Chelsea's midfield and claimed an assist for Pulisic's goal following a lung-busting surge through the middle of the pitch. 

Tuchel was pleased to see Kante showing signs of his best form after a difficult run with injuries. His three assists in all competitions in 2022 are the joint-most at Chelsea and it is the same amount he managed across 75 appearances for the club in 2020 and 2021 combined.

"I was very pleased. It took him a while, I have to say. It was not the real N'Golo in the last matches. He struggled a bit with belief and intensity in his game in general," said Tuchel. 

"It was good he stepped up today. You can instantly see how big the impact is if he's in good shape – he's our game changer. He had a huge impact. I'm very happy for him and the team." 

Jurgen Klopp implored Liverpool to continue "annoying" Manchester City as the Reds pursue the Premier League leaders.

Guardiola's defending top-flight champions are six points clear at the top, though they fell to a 3-2 reverse against Tottenham on Saturday.

Liverpool are in second and have the opportunity to cut the deficit to just three points when they host Leeds United on Wednesday.

Following last week's Champions League win over Sporting CP, Guardiola joked that the Reds were a "pain in the a**" and Klopp wants his side to carry on pestering City.

"First and foremost, it's important that we are close to whoever is at the top because that shows that some things are going in the right direction," Klopp said when asked about the title race on Tuesday.

"In the last four seasons - we were not around one year because of our problems, and we had some struggles - but before it was an insane race.

"Both teams are able to do some special stuff, I have to say with all respect [because] what City is doing is incredible.

"I think we are pushing each other as well, not only us because I don't forget the other teams like Chelsea, [Manchester] United, Arsenal and Tottenham. 

"But, we are pushing each other and that's how it is, and it keeps you going. There is no chance to get a bit soft because the other one will be there immediately to catch you.

"I think what Pep said - that we are the pain in the lower back, that's a good description and that's how it should be. 

"We try to be as annoying as somehow possible until we have a chance to overtake, but I don't know when that will be or if that will be the case.

"But, what I always said is that we have the decisive moments of the season, but it's not now in February; it's March and April."

Many are billing the clash between the top two at the Etihad Stadium on April 9 as a potential deciding factor in the title race, but Klopp insisted his team must keep the pace now to make that the case.

"You have to be close enough to make a decision in your direction and I don't know if that will be the case because what we do is pretty special, and I don't expect that to happen every week, and you cannot turn around games every week," he added.

"We have to be at our absolute best to play the best possible season for us and unfortunately, only twice a year in the Premier League, we face the other team [City].

"The first one was a draw where we were not brilliant but good enough to get a point, and the next one is not played yet, and we have to play the other teams including Tottenham and United as well. 

"We don't sit here and count those points as done, and then we wait for the middle of April for the City game.

"But, what the boys did over the past four years is pretty special and I'm happy with that, but not overly happy that I think that's enough.

"So far, it's not a bad season, but the decisions will be made later, and we just have to make sure that we are always in and around when these decisions will be made."

Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic put Chelsea in control of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lille with a 2-0 win, but Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech went off injured. 

Despite Romelu Lukaku being dropped to the bench after a dismal showing against Crystal Palace on Saturday, Chelsea needed just eight minutes to find the net through Havertz. 

The reigning champions saw in-form duo Kovacic and Ziyech hobble off before the hour mark, casting doubt over their chances of featuring in the EFL Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday. 

Pulisic finished off a quick break after 63 minutes to secure a strong first-leg lead for Thomas Tuchel's side, with the return leg to come in France next month.

Havertz wasted little time in making his mark as the central striker, nodding home from Ziyech's corner after failing to take a couple of early chances. 

Antonio Rudiger almost turned a Renato Sanches cross into his own net and Lille threatened with a flurry of chances from the resulting corner as they started to get a foothold in the game. 

Chelsea were dealt a blow when they lost Kovacic and Ziyech in quick succession early in the second half, but they doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute. 

N'Golo Kante surged forward from inside the Chelsea half and fed Pulisic for a delightful dink over the onrushing Leo Jardim and into the bottom-right corner. 

Lille tried to reduce the arrears with a push for a late goal, but Edouard Mendy was never really tested and Chelsea remained in charge of the tie. 

What does it mean? Advantage Chelsea 

The Blues were always going to be the favourites in this match-up and they got the win that was expected of them despite being far from dominant. 

Chelsea have a good record when winning the first leg of a Champions League tie; in the 11 occasions they have won the opening encounter, they have reached the next round nine times. 

However, the two exits followed first-leg victories at Stamford Bridge against Barcelona in 1999-2000 and Liverpool in 2006-07. 

No room for Romelu 

Lukaku was dropped after having just seven touches across 90 minutes at the weekend. Havertz needed just five to have three attempts on goal and find the net with the last of them, showing he is more than capable of being a potent threat through the middle. 

Sanches shines in defeat 

Sanches proved he has come a long way as he returned to the ground where he infamously passed to a logo on an advertising board, which he had mistaken for a team-mate during an underwhelming loan spell at Swansea City in 2017. He bossed the midfield in the first half and played some lovely passes.  

What's next? 

Chelsea face Liverpool in the EFL Cup final at Wembley on Sunday, when Lille travel to Lyon in Ligue 1. 

Hakim Ziyech and Mateo Kovacic could be doubts for the EFL Cup final this weekend after hobbling out of Chelsea's Champions League meeting with Lille. 

Kovacic sustained an injury shortly after the restart in the last 16 first leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday and was replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the 51st minute.

Ziyech, who has scored in each of his past three Premier League appearances and set up Kai Havertz for the opener against Lille, appeared to sustain an ankle injury. Saul Niguez was sent on in his place in the 60th minute. 

Thomas Tuchel will no doubt hope the pair are able to recover in time to feature against Liverpool at Wembley on Sunday, with Chelsea chasing more silverware after their Club World Cup triumph earlier this month.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has conceded injured forwards Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will not be fit for the Premier League clash with Leeds United, and that both face a race against time to make Sunday's EFL Cup final against Chelsea.

Jota, whose tally of 12 league goals for the season is bettered only by Mohamed Salah among Liverpool players, suffered a knock in last week's Champions League win at Inter, while Firmino reported discomfort after the same fixture.

Both forwards sat out the Reds' 3-1 Premier League win over Norwich, with fellow attackers Salah, Sadio Mane, and Luis Diaz all finding the net.

Ahead of a week in which Liverpool can close the gap to Manchester City in the Premier League to just three points, before looking to lift their first domestic cup since 2012, Klopp was not hopeful about the pair's prospects.

"For tomorrow [Wednesday, against Leeds], no chance, and then [for] the final we will see", Klopp said. "It would be easy to say 'no' now, but we will see. 

"They are [pushing], but they were not on the training pitch [yet] so that's not a good sign. 

"We have to see what we can do with the boys in the next few days, and then make a decision later in the week."

Liverpool, who have only failed to score in one of their last 23 meetings with Leeds in all competitions, netting in each of their last 16 in a row since a goalless draw in April 1999, will go within three points of City if they beat the Whites at Anfield, but Klopp was keen to highlight Leeds' strengths before the contest.

"We saw all the faces of Leeds United on Sunday [in their 4-2 defeat to Manchester United]," he added.

"They are very brave and very exciting. Offensively, they go with everything they have. Defensively, you can cause them problems, but that is difficult as well, because of their man-marking all over the pitch.

"If you are not really up for the game, they will eat you."

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