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Chelsea ratings: Gusto shines but Jackson shows wasteful side in Brighton win

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CHELSEA maintained their late push for a Europa League place as they climbed up to sixth with a 2-1 win over Brighton.

Cole Palmer gave the visitors the lead at the Amex, superbly heading into the top corner from a Marc Cucurella cut-back.

Cole Palmer gave Chelsea the lead with a sumptuous header

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Cole Palmer gave Chelsea the lead with a sumptuous headerCredit: Rex
Christopher Nkunku swept home Chelsea's second of the game

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Christopher Nkunku swept home Chelsea’s second of the gameCredit: Reuters

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men thought they had made it 2-0 when Nicolas Jackson nodded in, but he was correctly ruled offside.

Chelsea then did double their advantage through substitute Christopher Nkunku in the 64th minute as he swept home Malo Gusto‘s impressive cut-back.

But there were two sour notes for Chelsea to end on as Reece James was dismissed for a ridiculous kick-out at Joao Pedro following a VAR review, before Danny Welbeck pulled one back in stoppage time.

The result sees Chelsea move above Newcastle into sixth – a position that will be good enough for Europa League football next season providing Manchester City beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

Here is how SunSport’s Dylan Terry saw the performances of the Chelsea players.

Dorde Petrovic – 6/10

Was caught wrong-footed for Adingra’s strike and will have been thankful to see it roll the other side of the post.

Had very little else to do other than a routine stop to deny a Pedro header.

Malo Gusto – 8

Let fly with a venomous long-range attempt that forced Verbruggen into a smart save.

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Rifled a cross-shot right across the six-yard box and can blame his team-mates for failing to get on the end of it.

Set up the second with a wonderful piece of wide-play. An all-round complete display from the full-back.

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Malo Gusto was sensational for Chelsea on Wednesday night

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Malo Gusto was sensational for Chelsea on Wednesday nightCredit: Getty

Trevoh Chalobah – 7

Accomplished on and off the ball, snuffing out any second balls for Pedro. Also played some accurate passes into the midfield.

Brilliantly tracked Adingra and slid in to clear the danger when up against him one-on-one in a dangerous position.

Benoit Badiashile – 6

Had a quiet evening by all accounts.

Not as impressive as Chalobah with his distribution of the ball but still solid enough at the back.

Marc Cucurella – 6

Predictably received a hugely hostile atmosphere along with Caicedo and struggled in the early stages, giving the ball away and diving in to concede needless fouls.

Defensively lacking, but going forward he showed his offensive attributes with a good cross for Palmer’s goal.

Marc Cucurella showed both his defensive frailties and attacking quality

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Marc Cucurella showed both his defensive frailties and attacking qualityCredit: Getty

Moises Caicedo – 7

Showed the kind of quality he demonstrated at Brighton in the opening three minutes of the game with a delightful flick around the corner and pass to start a Chelsea attack.

Kept things ticking over to a chorus of jeers from all corners of the South Coast stadium.

Conor Gallagher – 7

Crucially got his head to the ball ahead of Gross from two yards out to prevent Brighton from taking the lead.

The beating heart of the Chelsea team, does all the things often overlooked in a midfielder – tracking the runner,

Cole Palmer – 7

You would have been forgiven for not realising he was on the pitch until he popped up with the opener. But what a header it was.

As Jackson, Madueke and Mudryk continue to look a little blunt in front of goal, Palmer continues to bail them out and takes his tally to 25 for the season.

Palmer scored his 25th goal of the season in all competitions

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Palmer scored his 25th goal of the season in all competitionsCredit: Getty

Noni Madueke – 6

Bright, a constant nuisance for the less mobile Igor, but lacked a final pass or shot.

Drifted in and out of the game but on the whole a decent performance before he was replaced by Sterling midway through the second half.

Nicolas Jackson – 5

First touch let him down when he was played in behind after 15 minutes as he went wide and passed up the chance.

Links the play nicely for Palmer and the wide men, but his final ball simply has to improve. The pass across for Nkunku – who would have had an open goal – was unforgivable.

Had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside call but really should not have strayed beyond the last defender.

Replaced by Thiago in the dying embers of the game.

Mykhailo Mudryk – 6

Should offer more of a threat than he does given his pace in behind. Struggled with the physicality of the Brighton defenders.

Had to be replaced before half-time after being clattered by Lamptey.

Subs

Christopher Nkunku (for Mudryk, 42 mins) – 6

Looked lively as soon as he replaced Mudryk before the break.

Found space at the beginning of the second half but could only fire his effort wide.

Then popped up to slot home Gusto’s pull back to make sure of the victory – and produced his balloon celebration for good measure.

Nkunku scored his first goal of the year and third in a Chelsea shirt

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Nkunku scored his first goal of the year and third in a Chelsea shirtCredit: Getty

Raheem Sterling (for Madueke, 69 mins) – 6

Did little to impact the game, but cannot be blamed for much of Chelsea’s possession going down the other side late in the game.

Worked hard defensively once James was sent off as Chelsea dropped off to a deeper block.

Reece James (for Gusto, 69 mins) – 2

Showed some glimpses going forward but was then dismissed for the most ridiculous of kick-outs.

A sorry end to a thoroughly frustrating season for the England right-back.

Thiago Silva (for Jackson, 90 mins) – N/A

Cesare Casadei (for Palmer, 90+8 mins) – N/A

Lesley Ugochukwu (for Gallagher, 90+8 mins) – N/A

Unused subs: Bettinelli, Chilwell, Levi Colwill.

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