Thomas Tuchel has revealed penalty supremo Jorginho has “sacrificed himself” for Chelsea for weeks on end.
The Italy midfielder netted twice from the spot to grind out a 3-2 win over Leeds at Stamford Bridge and set the Blues’ Premier League title tilt back on track.
Jorginho again played through a back problem with N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic sidelined, and took his Premier League penalty tally to 15 for Chelsea in a vital win.
Boss Tuchel admitted Chelsea “desperately” needed a victory, to end a stuttering sequence of two draws and a win in five previous top-flight encounters.
“And I was aware that this moment would come when he suffers, because he played Champions League with us, Euros with Italy, then all the qualifiers for the World Cup for Italy.
“There was not only physical effort for him, but also it has been mentally very, very demanding.
“He had no pre-season then started the Super Cup game, so I knew we would arrive a point in the season where he would feel his body and not be fully fit.
“But Jorginho is Jorginho and he is fully aware of the situation himself. And he sacrifices himself and gives his very best every single day.
“It’s the perfect attitude and it’s a big reward for him today, because it’s not easy to score two penalties in one game.
“We needed this win desperately, for the belief, for the mood and for the atmosphere. I’m very happy with how we got it, how we played. Now we have two days off and it creates a good feeling for the boys.”
Teenage striker Joe Gelhardt thought his maiden Leeds goal had stolen the visitors a draw, only for Mateusz Klich to concede a penalty after tussling with Toni Rudiger.
Jorginho buried the added-time spot-kick to seal Chelsea’s win and keep the Blues just two points off leaders Manchester City.
Leeds’ Brazil forward had converted a penalty of his own but was left to lament a loose challenge on Germany defender Rudiger at the other end.
Mason Mount had put Chelsea level at 1-1 at half-time after Raphinha’s opener, but the game truly came alight in the closing exchanges.
Diego Llorente and Junior Firpo were caught in a heated spat with Kai Havertz at full-time, with Rudiger storming over to try to end the argument.
Tuchel insisted neither team’s players had overstepped the mark, accepting Leeds’ frustrations at failing to play out for a draw.
“You cannot have Toni as the emotional leader and the aggressive leader on the pitch and suddenly not expect him to be involved if there are team-mates to protect. How I observed it was no harm done.”
Marcelo Bielsa felt his Leeds side were good value for the draw, but also insisted the post-match flare-ups had not strayed out of hand.
“I think we would have deserved a draw,” said Bielsa. “We were able to create dangers, and it was nice to watch and a great challenge for us.
“In a game with emotions that were so high it’s two teams with liberated passions, and that’s it. These things happen. I saw it within the margins of what was tolerable.
“All of us would hope that it didn’t happen. But I didn’t think it overcame any grave limits.”