Ben Chilwell says Chelsea showed the mentality they will need for success this season as they held off an intense late push from Brentford to return to the top of the Premier League.
England left-back Chilwell’s first-half goal – his third in three games for club and country – was enough to win the west London derby, but only thanks to some strong defensive work as the Bees piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
After Liverpool had gone top by thrashing Watford earlier on Saturday, Thomas Tuchel’s side responded in the day’s late game with a mature and dogged display against their promoted hosts.
The European champions dominated the first half but had to dig deep to secure the three points in the first league meeting between the two clubs in 74 years.
“The last 20 minutes, we showed the mentality we need to be showing all season,” Chilwell said.
“It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes, but we did pretty well.”
The outcome would have been different had Brentford forward Bryan Mbeumo scored instead of twice hitting the Blues woodwork either side of Chilwell’s winner.
In a frantic final 15 minutes where Brentford threw everything at their opponents, Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy had to make two important and brave saves, while Blues defender Trevoh Chalobah also cleared off the line.
Senegal international Mendy also tipped over an acrobatic effort from Bees midfielder Christian Norgaard in injury-time, sealing a victory which the Blues keeper celebrated wildly with his team-mates at the final whistle.
“In the end, the last 20 minutes were suddenly a cup game and they had nothing to lose,” said Tuchel.
“They found momentum and it felt like we had one player less. They played with more belief and we focused too much on defending.
“I was happy with the first 65-70 minutes and we should have scored more. But respect to Brentford.”