League leader Chelsea survives late Brentford attack to win 1-0

A Ben Chilwell strike in the 45th minute gave Chelsea the lead but it owed its three points as much to goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who denied Brentford with a string of late saves.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy made a string of late saves to help Chelsea beat Brentford 1-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.   -  Getty Images

Chelsea beat neighbour Brentford 1-0 to keep its grip on the Premier League's top spot on Saturday thanks to a Ben Chilwell strike but it owed its three points as much to goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who denied the host with a string of late saves.

Chilwell, back in the team after being side-lined early in the season, scored for the second match in a row when Brentford failed to clear and the ball dropped kindly for him to strike from 12 yards with a half volley in the 45th minute.

The host had earlier hit the post through Bryan Mbeumo and the Frenchman was again denied by the woodwork in the 75th minutes as the Bees subjected Chelsea to wave after wave of attacks in its second-half push for an equaliser.

Premier League's latest addition Brentford spent much of the first half pegged back by Chelsea but the red and white shirts piled forward after the break, roared on by their fans relishing their first league derby against their West London rivals since 1947.

In the 83rd minute, Mendy denied Saman Ghoddos as he rushed off his line to close down the angle, moments before Trevoh Chalobah saved the visitors by clearing off line from Christian Norgaard.

Chelsea's French goalkeeper made more fine saves, including turning over an acrobatic overhead effort by Norgaard in injury time.

Asked to describe the game, Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel told BBC: "Very strong for 70 minutes, very lucky for 20 minutes."

READ: Vardy strikes as Leicester sinks Man United in 4-2 thriller

The match proved a baptism of fire for Chelsea's Malang Sarr who made his league debut in the centre of defence, replacing the injured Antonio Rudiger while Thiago Silva returned to London from international duty for Brazil too late to play.

"We trust the guys who are young. If you don’t play you cannot get experience," Tuchel said.

"The last 25 minutes I think we totally dominated Chelsea, the European champions, and throughout the game we allowed Chelsea to have five shots," said Brentford coach Thomas Frank.

"That is crazy. It's unheard of when you are playing the number one in the league and the Champions League winners. That should give us a lot of confidence."

"There should only be one winner in that game and that is us," the Dane said. "Mendy was absolutely world class and I think he's been crazy good for Chelsea. I just said to him it was a little bit annoying he was so good today."

Tuchel too praised Mendy for an excellent performance.

"Ed was absolutely decisive to escape with a clean sheet," he said.

"He was very strong and very concentrated in the build-up play. Very good performance and of course the last 20 minutes, the match turned into a cup game.

"They took a lot of risks and put a lot of bodies into our box. We could not keep them away from shooting and having the big chances."

The result leaves Chelsea one point clear of Liverpool at the top of the table on 19 points. Brentford, who has beaten London rival Arsenal and West Ham United so far this season, stands in seventh place on 12 points.

Confidence is flowing through Chilwell again

Chilwell, who also scored for England in a World Cup qualifier earlier this month, was left out of Tuchel's team in August and September after being overlooked by England during Euro 2020.

"I felt him a little bit tired, I felt him mentally drained and it needs its time," Tuchel told reporters.

"Today he was he was strong again, he is in good shape," he added. "We need him in shape we need everybody: we have many, many games, many competitions to play and I'm happy with, of course, his goal because it gives him a lot of confidence."

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :