Leeds United endured a miserable start to a Premier League match for the second time in the space of days when they faced off with Chelsea.
Having conceded two goals in the opening 10 minutes against Arsenal at the weekend, which was further compounded by Luke Ayling’s red card, things went from bad to worse at Elland Road on Wednesday.
That’s because the relegation-threatened Whites were suffering from a bout of deja vu as they once again conceded early and went into the half-time break with only 10 men on the pitch.
And while Mason Mount’s opening goal for the European champions might have been a scintillating strike, there’s no denying that everyone was fully focused on Dan James’ red card.
James’ hideous tackle vs Chelsea
While there was likely no malice behind said red card offence, that didn’t make it any less dangerous with James planting his studs halfway up Kovacic’s leg at a serious rate of knots.
As soon as replays showed exactly how swiftly James came flying in and just how high his foot was above the ground, it couldn’t have been any clearer why the red card came out almost immediately.
It’s one of those tackles that makes you want to look away and fold yourself into a ball, so be sure to hold on tight as you watch James’ brutal challenge that consigned him to an early bath down below:
RED CARD! 🟥— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 11, 2022
Dan James is shown a straight red card for this challenge on Mateo Kovačić! 😬 pic.twitter.com/c71IDj0DOZ
Perhaps even more baffling than the challenge itself is the fact that James looked to be miffed that a free-kick had even been given, throwing his arms out and appearing to protest: “Come on!”
But there was never going to be another result with Anthony Taylor not hesitating for a second to produce a red card having been stood mere feet away from the incident.
Kovacic was subbed off
While everyone was relieved to see that Kovacic had avoided what could easily have been a very serious injury, potentially even a leg break, the Chelsea midfielder still had to leave the pitch early.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced the former Real Madrid man on the half-hour mark and we hope that he recovers quickly if any injuries were indeed brought about by James’ challenge.
Though, promisingly, Kovacic seemed to be in pretty jovial spirits as he was seen laughing at Leeds fans when they appeared to be making hostile gestures towards him from behind Chelsea’s bench.
Leeds fans and Kovacic lol pic.twitter.com/ktQu6eD8Zt— 🇨🇩🇸🇱 (@F1avs) May 11, 2022
And from thereon out, he would have a front-row seat to watch his Chelsea teammates battle to consolidate their Champions League place against a 10-man side scrambling to avoid relegation.
Leeds might never have expected to nab any points from a strong Chelsea outfit, but there’s no denying that picking up yet another red card halved their already slim chances in an instant.
We can only be grateful that nobody was seriously injured because James will no doubt watch his tackle back tonight and know that it wasn’t his finest hour.