Chelsea got their Champions League bid back on track and left 10-man Leeds deeper in the relegation quagmire with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Elland Road.
An early strike from Ason Mount and second-half goals from Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku halted Chelsea’s three-game winless run and lifted them four points clear of London rivals Arsenal in third place.
It was a timely win for Thomas Tuchel’s side, who had dropped 10 points in their previous five matches ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final against Liverpool.
For Leeds, it was another night to forget. They dropped to a third straight loss to stay in the bottom three and had a man sent off for the second time in successive matches.
Jesse Marsch’s side played 66 minutes with 10 men after Dan James was red-carded for his misjudged slot on Mateo Kovacic.
James’s sacking followed a similar rush of bloodshed by team-mate Luke Ayling in Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal and Leeds have never threatened to add to their points tally ever since.
Mount followed his pass down the right flank in the fourth minute and when Reece James sent the ball inside, the England midfielder scored the opening goal.
Leeds, who gave teenage midfielder Lewis Bate his first league start and started with Raphinha at right-back, appeared at odds with another new formation as Chelsea moved the ball around comfortably.
Chelsea were close to adding a second when Mount’s cross slipped past Lukaku, but Leeds lifted their fans with several forays before Diego Llorente fired wide.
Any optimism was short-lived, however, as they were reduced to 10 men in the 24th minute when James was shown a red card for his challenge on Kovacic.
Leeds fans were furious, but referee Anthony Taylor had no choice. James’ tackle was high and reckless and just as they had done at Arsenal, Marsch’s relegation fighters had shot themselves in the foot.
Lukaku thought he had lobbed Chelsea 2-0 up but his effort was ruled out for offside and the Belgian striker then headed in James’ cross from inches wide.
Such was Chelsea’s dominance, a second goal for the visitors seemed inevitable, while Leeds’ injury troubles throughout the season continued when Jack Harrison limped off and was replaced by Junior Firpo.
Play was briefly halted in the 37th minute after touchline stewards sought medical assistance from someone outside before Leeds set an unwanted Premier League record before the interval.
Kalvin Phillips took down Pulisic and became the 100th Leeds player to receive a yellow card this season.
82′ Goal Chelsea. Lukaku. 0-3
– Leeds United (@LUFC) May 11, 2022
Lukaku headed another chance before Chelsea added their second in the 55th minute.
Pulisic fired a low finish inside the right post of Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier after Mount’s deft kick to all but end the game.
Lukaku came awfully close to making it 3-0 in the 66th minute, but the third goal duly came when Leeds were penalized after losing the ball again in their own half.
The Chelsea striker pounced on substitute Hakim Ziyech’s pass in the box and after dodging several challenges scored his eighth league goal of the season.