Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera were on target as Manchester United defeated Chelsea 2-0 at Old Trafford to keep their top four hopes alive. The title race is now back on as Tottenham cut their gap to four points on Chelsea. Such was United’s domination that Chelsea couldn’t muster a single shot on target for the first time since September 2007.
Rashford opened the scoring in the 7th minute, as United started the match in stunning style. Herrera, who had unintentionally handled the ball moments before, completed a sublime through pass to send the striker through on goal. Rashford had missed a very similar chance in the FA Cup match weeks ago, but didn’t make a mistake this time as he beat stand in ‘keeper Asmir Begovic with a low shot to his right. Chelsea had just one shot in the first half when Diego Costa hit a wayward shot just moments before the half-time whistle.
Herrera scored just after the break as his shot got a huge deflection before finding its way into the back of the net. Chelsea tried their best to come back in the game but, United dominated the potential champions and held off to keep a deserved clean sheet.
The biggest winners of the match were Tottenham who, thanks to United, are now back in the title race. United are now four points behind fourth-placed City, albeit with a game in hand.
Here are the Talking Points from the match
Herrera Redeems himself
Before the match, Herrera vowed to make amends for his silly sending off which cost United a win against Chelsea in the FA cup Quarter Final at Stamford Bridge. And he did jut that. He created a sublime assist and then scored a deserved goal, his first in the League in about a year. And he did that while also man marking Chelsea’s star man Eden Hazard. He didn’t give the Belgian a moment of solitude and followed him everywhere, a decision made by Jose Mourinho, which paid off. This was probably Herrera’s best performance in a United shirt.
Mourinho Avenges Two Defeats
Mourinho defeated his former employees for the first time as United manager and did so in stunning fashion. His genius tactical knowledge was once again on display as he avenged two bitter defeats against a club whose fans recently labeled him as ‘Judas’. And on top of that, he repeatedly pointed to his current crest as he marched towards the dressing room after full-time, showing his loyalty towards his current employers.
Off day for Chelsea
The Blues had a bad day to say the least. Hours before the match it was confirmed that Thibaut Courtois had sustained an ankle injury playing Basketball while filming an advert. Not just that, they lost Marcos Alonso to injury during the warm-up and had to play Kurt Zouma at right wing back, with Cesar Azpilicueta at left wing back.
To add to their misery, their players couldn’t match United’s strength and vigour. Their attackers had a dreadful day, their defence was woeful and their midfield of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic were bossed by United’s Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba. Matic had such a poor day that he didn’t win a single duel or tackle and made absolutely zero interceptions. Not good numbers for a midfielder, right?
Even though Mourinho did confirm it in his post-match press conference, it was hard to believe that he was saying the truth. He had dropped Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the bench and played Rashford in the No. 9 position. It was a tactic that proved to be the difference, as United punished Chelsea’s defence with their pace, a weakness which Crystal Palace highlighted in their recent win against Chelsea. Rashford took his chance well, but will surely lose his position to Ibra in the must-win match against Anderlecht in midweek.
One Down, Three More to Go
United probably had the most difficult run-in amongst their rivals, and after this match, they still have to play Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham, ties which the top four race is dependent upon. If United play in the same way as they did today, they would be absolutely unstoppable. Over to you, José.