Chelsea celebrated the return of supporters to Stamford Bridge with an entertaining and deserved 3-1 comeback win over Leeds United which sends them top of the Premier League table.
For the first time since March, Chelsea fans were in the stands on Saturday night following the easing of coronavirus restrictions - although the 2,000 supporters were almost immediately silenced by their former striker Patrick Bamford and his impressive opener just four minutes in.
Olivier Giroud - making his first Premier League start of the season after scoring four at Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday - pulled the Blues level on 27 minutes, though, turning home Reece James' brilliant cross, before Kurt Zouma's header completed the turnaround.
Leeds pushed for a late equaliser but Timo Werner broke away down the right and teed up Christian Pulisic to tuck in the third, three minutes into stoppage time, sparking wild celebrations in the stands and in the Chelsea dugout.
It was a sweet victory for Blues boss Frank Lampard over his Leeds counterpart Marcelo Bielsa, following their Spygate spat two seasons ago, and it was also a win to savour for the fans in attendance, with the home side moving above Tottenham and Liverpool - who play Arsenal and Wolves, respectively, on Sunday - while Leeds drop to 13th.
Chelsea: Mendy (7), James (8), Silva (7), Zouma (7), Chilwell (7), Kante (7), Mount (7), Havertz (6), Werner (7), Ziyech (6), Giroud (8).
Subs used: Pulisic (7), Kovacic (6), Abraham (6)
Leeds: Meslier (7), Ayling (7), Koch (n/a), Cooper (7), Dallas (7), Phillips (8), Klich (7), Raphinha (8), Alioski (7), Harrison (6), Bamford (7).
Subs used: Llorente (6), Poveda (6), Rodrigo (6)
Man of the match: Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
How Chelsea won in front of their fans
The home supporters - spread over the lower tiers of the Shed End and West Stand and back at Stamford Bridge for the first time in almost exactly nine months since a 4-0 win over Everton on March 8 - were off their seats inside a minute when Hakim Ziyech's near-post shot was turned behind by Illan Meslier and Giroud headed the resulting corner into the side-netting.
But Bamford - who signed for Chelsea as an 18-year-old in 2012 but spent the majority of his five years with the club out on loan - struck with just four minutes on the clock.
The Leeds striker raced onto Kalvin Phillips' inch-perfect through ball, took it past Edouard Mendy and slotted into the unguarded net for his eighth Premier League goal of the season - seven of which have come away from home.
- Olivier Giroud made his first Premier League start of the season, following his Champions League heroics, with Tammy Abraham on the bench. Elsewhere, there were eight changes from the Sevilla game.
- Leeds were unchanged from the team which beat Everton last time out.
Chelsea should have levelled just five minutes later but Werner somehow managed to prevent Giroud's flicked header from going in at the back post and then shoot onto the bar himself.
That looked like it could be a costly error as Leeds - who lost Robin Koch early on to injury - continued to threaten on the break, with Bamford firing Jack Harrison's cutback over before Ezgjan Alioski hit the post after an offside flag against Luke Ayling.
But Chelsea equalised just before the half-hour mark when Giroud turned in Reece James' superb low cross for his 13th goal in his last 13 Chelsea appearances in all competitions to repay Frank Lampard's faith in him after his midweek Champions League heroics.
Ziyech was forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury immediately after the equaliser and was replaced by Christian Pulisic, who miscued moments after coming on. And the pace of the game didn't relent in the second half.
Kai Havertz headed a whipped free-kick from James narrowly over, before Thiago Silva made an important block when Raphinha met Mateusz Klich's corner on the volley, before the winger fired the rebound over.
Werner was then twice denied by smart stops from Meslier before Chelsea eventually pulled in front, with Zouma powering away from the Leeds defenders to forcefully head home Mason Mount's corner for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Another brilliant block from Meslier denied Werner once more and Giroud wasted a free header from the following corner as Chelsea pressed for a third, but there was debate at the other end when sub Ian Poveda shot straight at Mendy after appearing to be caught by Ben Chilwell's boot in the box. The Leeds man didn't go down and nothing was given.
Bielsa's men put Chelsea under pressure in the final stages but when Werner broke clear he set up Pulisic to seal it and send the Blues top of the Premier League and their fans home happy.
Man of the Match - Olivier Giroud
Sky Sports' Patrice Evra:
"People won't appreciate Olivier Giroud until they play with him. It's a pleasure to play with him because he helps the team so much. I know sometimes he gets criticised for not scoring all the time, but he also scores some amazing goals.
"He deserved to play. He deserved to start because for me, up against the other Chelsea strikers, he's the most complete. He's the striker that will help the team the most. He's scoring goals and I'm so pleased for him.
"He deserves more credit."
What the managers said...
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard: "We started brilliantly in the first few minutes but then they scored so that's a test straight away. We created so many opportunities, stayed positive and defended well. We had to accept they would probably create chances but I thought we dominated the game in terms of action in the two boxes. I thought we deserved the win though it was a bit nervy until the end.
"It's early December and there's a long way to go. Whether it's this season we get to the heights we want, I don't know. But we are moving in the right direction. I'm really pleased. Our job is to not get caught up in the chat. We have to keep our feet on the ground. There's a long, long way to go. At the minute we're in a patch."
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa: " thought the result was fair. We failed to neutralise them in this aspect (set pieces) and in the end it was an important factor in their win. I can't give you an opinion on [the Poveda incident] because I didn't see the attack with clarity. Chelsea? They are one of the important teams in the Premier League."
- Chelsea have finished a day top of the Premier League table for the first time since September 2018.
- Chelsea have beaten Leeds in what is their first league encounter since May 2004, while it's their third consecutive victory against them in all competitions.
- Leeds have lost four consecutive away league games against Chelsea for the first time since August 1937.
- Chelsea have won four of their last five Premier League games (D1) - indeed, no current Premier League side is on a longer unbeaten run than the Blues (9 - W5 D4).
- Leeds have lost three of their last five Premier League games (W1 D1), conceding three or more goals in all three defeats.
- Leeds faced 23 shots in this match, their joint-most in a Premier League game this season (also 23 v Man City), while Chelsea's 10 shots on target was the most the Whites have faced so far this term.
- Leeds have conceded five goals from set pieces (excluding penalties) in the Premier League this season, only Leicester have conceded more from such situations (6).
- Oliver Giroud has become the first Chelsea player to score in six consecutive Premier League starts since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in October 2001. Whilst at 34 years and 66 days, he is the oldest player to ever score in six consecutive Premier League starts.
- Christian Pulisic became the 13th different player to score for Chelsea in the Premier League this season - the Blues have had at least four more than any other side in the competition in 2020-21(excluding own goals).
- Patrick Bamford has scored seven of his eight Premier League goals away from home this season (88%), no player has scored more on the road in the competition (Son Heung-Min and Jamie vardy also seven).
Chelsea host Krasnodar in the Champions League on Tuesday before travelling to Everton next Saturday for an 8pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Premier League. Leeds welcome West Ham for Friday Night Football on Sky Sports Premier League, kick-off 8pm.