The Blues were the better team for the first hour aside from a conceded penalty, but the dam exploded in the second half.
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American winger Christian Pulisic came off the bench for Chelsea with an hour to play.
Three things we learned
1. Paul Pogba looked a man inspired, chipping in at both ends and scooping up two assists. The first was an audacious, inch-perfect ball to lift the lid on the defense and the second came after leading a marauding counter attack and playing a scintillating little pass to James.
2. Both Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer want to give the kids a chance, even if the former didn’t give our American kid a start. Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira held places in United’s XI, and both Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham opened business for Chelsea.
Lampard, however, perhaps got a little too cute in handing the Abraham an opening day start at Old Trafford when he had Olivier Giroud‘s experience in the mix (albeit with the knowledge that Giroud doesn’t have a great record at United). Abraham was quick and industrious but perhaps a bit tipsy from the stage.
UPDATE: Jose Mourinho, speaking on Sky Sports, agrees.
“Alonso, Kante and Giroud were on the bench. To come to Old Trafford, even if it’s not the huge Manchester United team that used to scare people, it’s still Manchester United, it’s the first match at home, first match of the season, people are excited. A little bit of experience would fit well with the team. You look at the performance of Mount, Abraham and Christensen and I think for matches of this dimension you need a bit more.”
3. Top strikers — and we have no idea if Marcus Rashford will prove to be one — score even when they’re struggling, and Rashford won and converted a penalty despite looking out of place for the first 15 minutes of the match.
Man of the Match: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
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Tammy Abraham hammered a shot off the post in the fifth minute, and it didn’t even appear to spin (and may have been heard to whimper).
At the other end, a poor giveaway allowed Anthony Martial a prime chance. The French hit a low drive to Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Marcus Rashford had a poor first quarter-hour but his mistouch put Kurt Zouma off balance and the Chelsea man chopped him down for a penalty. Rashford roofed his effort for a 1-0 lead.
De Gea made a fine leg save on Ross Barkley as the match neared halftime, and Victor Lindelof blocked Jorginho‘s mediocre attempt to volley the rebound home. And Emerson smashed a shot off the top of the near post moments later.
Emerson forced De Gea into another fine save in the 56th minute.
Chelsea introduced Christian Pulisic around the hour mark, and the Blues had all of the ball but gave up a goal at the next United opportunity.
That came when Martial bodied up to meet Andreas Pereira’s cross at the center of the box.
Two minutes later, Rashford ran onto an inch-perfect long ball from Pogba and put his shot behind Arrizabalaga for 3-0.
Pogba then led a free kick counter attack down the left of the pitch before slipping a sensational pass through to James, whose shot turned off Emerson and past Arrizabalaga.