Thomas Tuchel saluted Edouard Mendy as the Chelsea goalkeeper’s superb display sealed a hard-fought 1-0 win at Brentford on Saturday.
Tuchel’s side had been knocked out of pole position by Liverpool’s 5-0 rout of Watford a few hours earlier.
But Chelsea had the perfect response with a gritty victory in their first league meeting with their west London neighbours for 74 years.
Ben Chilwell’s fiercely-struck goal in first half stoppage-time was enough to give Chelsea their sixth win in eight league games.
But Chelsea had to rely on a series of fine saves from Mendy in the closing stages before they could move one point clear of second placed Liverpool.
The Blues had conceded just one goal from open play in the league this season and the stand-ins somehow held firm amid Brentford’s second half barrage.
Mendy had to make his first save in the 73rd minute when the Senegal keeper repelled Ivan Toney’s snap-shot.
With Brentford pouring forward, Mendy had to save again from a Saman Ghoddos effort before Trevoh Chalobah cleared Christian Norgaard’s shot off the line.
Mendy made yet another great stop, diving at Pontus Jansson’s feet to keep out the Brentford captain’s close-range shot.
Inevitably, there was more work for Mendy to do in stoppage-time and he rose to the challenge with a brilliant tip-over from Norgaard’s overhead kick.