David De Gea

Three things we learned from Chelsea v Man United

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LONDON — Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Blues breathed new life into their Premier League campaign.

[ MORE: Rivalry renewed – Conte v Mourinho ]

Alvaro Morata’s second half header was enough to beat Jose Mourinho’s men with United starting the game well but then pinned back by Chelsea after the opening 30 minutes.

The win sees Chelsea move just one point behind second-place United heading into the international break, while Manchester City’s lead at the top of the table has now been increased to eight points.

Here’s what we learned from a lively encounter in west London.


MORATA A MENACE

Even though he was adjudged to have fouled Phil Jones early on as the United center back shanked a clearance into his own net to score a spectacular own goal, Alvaro Morata had set the tone early.

The Spaniard was a menace for United’s defense all afternoon.

After his comments during the week to the Italian media which seemed to suggest he wasn’t enjoying life in London, Morata needed a big display. He delivered.

Morata’s towering header from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross — the fifth time he and his countryman have linked up this season for a goal and an assist — won the game for Chelsea to lift some of the growing gloom around Antonio Conte‘s side following their 3-0 shellacking at AS Roma on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Morata had missed chances at Roma and at Bournemouth in recent weeks but despite his wastefulness he has eight goals in 15 games for Chelsea. Not a bad ratio for a striker still adjusting to life in the PL.

More impressive than his goal was Morata’s ability to bully United’s defense. In the first half he charged into Jones with a good old fashioned shoulder barge and sent the bustling United center back to the ground.

At times this season Morata’s inability to mix it up in the Premier League has been questioned. As a direct replacement for Diego Costa (a man who “mixed it up” for a living) Morata was said to be soft. On Sunday he was not with the only blot on his copybook getting it all wrong as he raced in on goal in stoppage time when he only had David De Gea to beat.


UNITED TOO CONCERNED WITH CHELSEA

Eden Hazard was a marked man on Sunday with Phil Jones, Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly rotating the man-marking job on Chelsea’s playmaker.

Despite early promise where Romelu Lukaku had a smart turn and shot saved and then Marcus Rashford nodded just over, United were never in the game after the opening 30 minutes. Don’t let the scoreline fool you.

Mourinho was ushering Bailly to step high on Hazard when United had the ball in Chelsea’s half from the very first whistle.

Once again, in a big game, United’s approach was too defensive and this time they didn’t get the result they wanted.

After a 0-0 draw at Liverpool and a 1-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, Mourinho’s defensive masterclass didn’t work against Chelsea.

Maybe if he focused more on getting the ball to Lukaku and Rashford and involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the game they’d have forced the issue more than they did. Lukaku was a spectator for most of this game and will no doubt receive plenty of criticism for once again not delivering in a big game against a top six side, but he had little to no service.

Then again, this was a Mourinho team set up to play away from home in a defensive formation with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia at wing back, three center backs and two holding midfielders. What else did we expect?


KANTE CONTINUES TO MAKE CHELSEA TICK

The last month has been a long one for Chelsea. That’s because they’ve been without N'Golo Kante.

In the six games Chelsea were without Kante in October, they only kept one clean sheet.

Kante, the reigning PFA Player of the Year, returned from a hamstring injury on Sunday and dominated midfield. The French international was everywhere, snapping at the heels of Lukaku and Rashford whenever they dropped back and stepping into defensive gaps when Gary Cahill or Azpilicueta surged forward.

He also kept Nemanja Matic (who has been a pivotal figure for United since he transfer from Chelsea in the summer) quiet as the diminutive Frenchman dominated in midfield.

We all know how important Kante is but his first lengthy injury spell of the last two seasons since he arrived in the PL proved it.

Chelsea are a completely different team with Kante in midfield and their defensive solidity is down to him. No one player makes a team but one player can make a heck of a difference. See: Kante, N’Golo.

Man United 1-0 Tottenham: Martial wins it late on

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  • Martial scores later winner
  • Lukaku hits post with header
  • United five wins from five at home

Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday as Anthony Martial jumped off the bench to net a late winner.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Jose Mourinho’s side had the better chances throughout with Romelu Lukaku hitting the post and Antonio Valencia fizzing a shot over in the second half, but Martial’s scruffy finish nine minutes from time gave United all three points in a tight battle between title contenders.

With the win United keep their 100 percent record at home and move on to 23 points, while Spurs suffered their first away defeat of the season and stay on 20 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

United started well with Marcus Rashford sending in a free kick which Hugo Lloris palmed wide but as the first half wore on, Spurs grew in confidence and dominated possession.

The best chance fell to Moussa Sissoko as David De Gea dropped a high cross from Ben Davies after Phil Jones backed into him but the French international blazed over from inside the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Dele Alli was involved in two major flashpoints as he went head-to-head with Ashley Young and was then on the end of a crunching tackle from Antonio Valencia.

Just before half time Eric Dier volleyed towards goal from a corner but De Gea saved as the teams went in level and scoreless.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

United took the game to Spurs early in the second with Lloris spilling Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s low shot but Ben Davies bailed him out with a wonderful clearance. Moments later Mkhitaryan flashed an effort across goal which Romelu Lukaku couldn’t get on the end of.

Spurs made a double sub as Fernando Llorente and Mousa Dembele came on, while United brought on Jesse Lingard after his two-goal performance in the League Cup in midweek.

Valencia smashed an effort inches over as United pushed for a winner late in the game as Spurs seemed happy to settle for a draw.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lukaku raced clear but his shot across goal was palmed away by Lloris and at the other end Christian Eriksen blazed over from the edge of the box after he was left free. Alli then missed a great chance and his poked Eriksen’s cross wide and Spurs were made to rue that missed opportunity.

A long ball forward from De Gea was flicked on by Lukaku and Martial scuffed home the game-winner to send Old Trafford wild as he scored his fourth goal from the bench this season.

United head to Chelsea next week in the Premier League, while Spurs host Crystal Palace.

Buffon to retire at the end of season

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European soccer is losing a loveable superstar.

Legendary Juventus goalkeeper and fan favorite Gianluigi Buffon will indeed retire at the end of the season, according to a number of reports across Europe. Buffon had previously stated publicly that he was “99.9 percent sure that’s how I will go,” but had not confirmed his definite intentions to retire.

The 39-year-old has spent the last 17 seasons at Juventus after moving from Parma, where he started his career. He has 175 caps for the Italian national team, 37 more than anyone else. He serves as captain for both club and country.

Buffon came agonizingly close to winning his first Champions League title last season, reaching the final before his team ultimately fell apart in the second half in a 4-1 loss to Real Madrid. Buffon has reached three Champions League finals, but has never won the competition.

According to the reports, Buffon’s final action will come in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, after which he will hang up his boots. Buffon has won a World Cup in the past, tasting glory with Italy in the 2006 edition.

Buffon won the Best Goalkeeper award at the 2017 FIFA Football Awards on Monday, although the decision was criticized given the list of nominees included struggling Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who was benched, but did not include Manchester United and Spain goalkeeper David De Gea. Buffon previously became the only goalkeeper to ever win the UEFA Footballer of the Year back in 2003.

Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United: Monumental win!

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  • Town’s first win over United since 1952
  • Mooy, Depoitre score
  • Rashford pulls one back
  • United’s first PL loss

Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre scored to give Huddersfield Town its first win over Manchester United in 65 years, a 2-1 win at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back for United, which has lost its first PL match of the season and drops five points behind Man City.

Town leaps 10th, with 12 points. USMNT midfielder Danny Williams put in an impressive display for the Terriers.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Anthony Martial collected an early yellow card for United, and a clever move from Tom Ince to Steve Mounie called up Red Devils backstop David De Gea for his first collection of the match.

And Mooy put Town a head when he played Ince in for a shot, then put the rebound behind De Gea.

The keeper wouldn’t be relieved when a Jonas Lossl goal kick sailed over Victor Lindelof‘s jumping intervention, and Depoitretw danced around De Gea to make it 2-0.

Nemanja Matic‘s stoppage time effort through traffic almost pulled one back for United, but Town dealt with a corner kick to get to the break unscathed.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

But how many have?

Rashford lifted the hopes of the visitors with a goal with just under 15 minutes to play.

Mourinho: Tactics involved targeting young Benfica backstop

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho knew that promising Benfica backstop Mile Svilar would be facing some big nerves.

The 18-year-old was making his UEFA Champions League debut, and Mourinho instructed his Red Devils to challenge the backstop at every turn.

[ RECAP: Benfica 0-1 Man Utd ]

That paid off when Svilar carried Marcus Rashford‘s free kick into the goal, the lone marker of a 1-0 loss that keeps United atop Group A and Benfica three points behind second- and third place.

“I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable. We put men around him on corners so he cannot come out. He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that. He was unlucky for the goal,” Mourinho said.

Svilar looked dejected after the game, apologizing to fans at the Estadio da Luz and getting consolation from a fellow Belgian in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.

Nemanja Matic laid out United’s strategy a bit more, from the BBC:

“The manager said to us to try and shoot and get some crosses towards their goalkeeper because he is young and playing in his first game. This is football and I know he is a great goalkeeper and I wish him well for the future.

“We had control, some difficulties in the first 30 minuets but then we controlled the pitch. We used our experience. We could not find the second goal but did not make any mistakes at the back.”

Rashford limped out of the game, and Mourinho says he initially thought it was cramps. Instead, it’s a problem with his left knee. Simon Peach of the Press Association quotes Mourinho as hoping the injury is not bad.

United completed more than 500 passes, doubling Benfica’s production. Some have been critical of Mourinho’s penchant to play it safe, and he winked at them after the match in calling his tactics “a crime.”

“We were in control, David De Gea did not have one save to make. I never felt we could concede a goal and were solid defensively. Sometime I feel being good defensively is a crime, but that is a way of getting results.”