Christian Pulisic made his first Premier League start and Mason Mount scored his first senior goal for Chelsea, but it wasn’t enough as Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi made up for the error that led to Mount’s strike with a second-half equalizer, and the 1-1 draw leaves the Blues with just one point so far this season.
A deserved result for Leicester City
Chelsea came out flying, with manager Frank Lampard’s all-out press paying off before the contest was severn minutes old.
Mount put Lampard’s team ahead by picking Ndidi’s pocket at the top of the box and firing a low shot past Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel:
It was no less than the hosts deserved after an electric start to the contest. But while it seemed only a matter of time before the floodgates opened, the visitors managed to get the match to halftime down just the one goal.
And after the break, Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester was easily the better team, even if they benefited from some lax defending on the unmarked Ndidi’s powerful header:
With Chelsea switching to a three-man backline in an effort to regain their lead, the play was end-to-end.
Leicester could have stolen all three points on one golden late opportunity. But in the end, the chance went begging:
Leicester City NEARLY make it 2-1! pic.twitter.com/3xewLEA6ID
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 18, 2019
Still, there’s no doubt that the visitors earned their share of the spoils, even if it left the Blues winless through their first two games.
Pulisic continues to establish himself as a Chelsea starter ...
After coming off the bench in last week’s 4-0 humiliation against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Pulisic made his second start in a row.
The 20-year-old American was excellent in Wednesday’s loss to Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup, setting up the Blues’ opening goal in Istanbul and appearing to score himself on brilliant run before the goal was called back for offside.
Chelsea lost on penalties, but the performance was good enough for Pulisic to keep his spot in Lampard’s lineup for Sunday’s home opener at Stamford Bridge.
He didn’t disappoint. The former Borussia Dortmund standout was among his side’s most dangerous attacking threats all afternoon. Pulisic tore through the heart of midfield with the ball at his feet repeatedly, with Leicester forced to hack him down on more than one occasion.
And while end product wasn’t there in this match, the Blues look like a better team with Pulisic on the field. Lampard has made it clear that he’ll rotate his team in an effort to ease his young players’ transition to the Prem, but Pulisic is clearly establishing himself as a key player, if not an automatic starter.
Still, goals and assists will be expected. With veteran attacker Willian now recovered from injury (the Brazilian replaced Pulisic in the 70th minute), it’s on the newcomer to retain his spot.
... But Mason Mount was the Blues’ biggest standout
For all the attention on Pulisic, another youngster — the 21-year-old Mount — was Chelsea’s brightest light against Leicester. Mount surprisingly got the start over the U.S. national teamer last weekend, a move that drew increased scrutiny after former Blues boss Jose Mourinho criticized it in the media.
Mount returned to the bench for the UEFA Super Cup, entering as a second-half substitute against the Reds. But he was back in Lampard’s lineup on Sunday in place of Mateo Kovacic and made the most of the opportunity.
It wasn’t just the well-taken goal. Mount was dangerous whenever he got the ball, and his unpredictably seemed to unsettle the Foxes each time. He forced saves from Schmeichel before and after his goal. And unlike Pulisic, he played the entire 90 minutes—something his more ballyhooed fellow first-year Chelsea teammate has yet to do through three competitive games so far.
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