- Rashford scores controversial goal
- Herrera makes it 2-0 after HT
- Chelsea PL lead down to 4 points
Chelsea haven’t won the Premier League title just yet.
Jose Mourinho took significant risks, and they paid off as he comprehensively out-managed his Chelsea successor Antonio Conte at Old Trafford, with goals from Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera giving Manchester United an enormous home win, the first true statement victory of Mourinho’s Red Devil career.
The Special One shocked many by leaving Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench for the first time this season, but his tactics were clearly the better on Sunday. Mourinho left Herrera to man-mark Eden Hazard, and it completely shut the Belgian down. Meanwhile, Chelsea were left with a pair of injuries to deal with, as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois missed out with an ankle injury and Marcos Alonso was withdrawn from the starting lineup after pulling up in warmups.
Manchester United opened the game with a very high and heavy press, and it paid dividends immediately. Herrera won the ball in midfield, and fed Rashford on the break. The young attacker beat David Luiz one-on-one, and scored through the legs of Asmir Begovic to put the home side in front just eight minutes in. Shockingly, it’s the first goal scored by Manchester United in the opening 20 minutes of any Premier League game this season.
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The goal was slightly contentious, as the ball clipped Herrera’s arm as he won it initially. Herrera made a geniune effort to pull his arm back as the ball hit him, but it was still significantly outstretched at the time of contact. Nevertheless, referee Bobby Madley let play continue. Madley also failed to book Diego Costa in the opening 15 minutes for shoving Eric Bailly violently in the Manchester United box.
The Red Devils nearly had a second on 16 minutes as Ashley Young zipped a ball across the face of goal, but Rashford couldn’t connect under heavy pressure from the defense.
Despite the extremely physical nature of the game, the first yellow card was not produced until the 33rd minute when Diego Costa was cautioned for a studs-up tackle on Paul Pogba.
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Following halftime, Manchester United would stunningly go in front. A free-kick went over the box with too much pace, but Paul Pogba tracked it down and Ashley Young burst back into the penalty area. He laid off to Herrera who ripped an effort on net, and the ball took a huge deflection off Kurt Zouma, leaving Begovic with no chance as the ball squirted into the back of the net.
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The fouling continued through the second half, and United worked well on the counter to earn a chance for a third with 20 minutes to go as Rashford produced a turn-and-shoot that forced a good save by Begovic. On the other end, Chelsea held possession looking to get back into the game, but the United midfield and defense locked them down.
Herrera’s persistent fouling on Hazard finally earned him a yellow card with 18 minutes left, but the job had already been done. Hazard did not produce a single take-on attempt, and overall, Chelsea did not manage a single shot on target all match.
With the win, Manchester United moves within four points of a Champions League place with a game in hand. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table is now four points thanks to the win by Tottenham over the weekend.