Sunday, February 25, 2018 14:05
Sir Matt Busby Way, Central, Manchester, M16 0RA, United Kingdom
Homeground of Manchester United
Manchester United Vs Chelsea 2-1 - Match Highlights 25/2/18
Both sides showed two changes from their previous outing. For United, Anthony Martial came in for Juan Mata, and Paul Pogba replaced the injured Ander Herrera. For Chelsea, Alvaro Morata played up front, with Pedro missing out, and Cesc Fabregas was replaced by Danny Drinkwater.
It was Chelsea who made the brighter start. They almost opened the scoring when Hazard floated a high ball over to Alonso on the left hand side of the United box. Alonso took it out of the air and hit a first-time cross with his left foot, which Morata volleyed firmly onto the crossbar from six yards. United's best chance during this phase fell to Alexis Sanchez, who could not find his balance sufficiently to convert Martial's low cross
Chelsea finally made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute. A poor cross from Valencia was cut out by Willian, who took the ball clear and found Hazard. Willian continued his run, which was not tracked by McTominay, and Hazard bypassed five players with a perceptive pass which found Willian unmarked and surging into the United area. He took a touch and struck the ball firmly towards the near post. De Gea seemed to have it covered, but was beaten by the pace of the shot, and was left beating the ground in frustration.
Chelsea's lead only lasted seven minutes, as United produced an Arsenal-like equaliser starting, appropriately, from a Sanchez pass into the middle of the Chelsea box. Martial did well to keep his balance under pressure, and pushed the ball towards Lukaku, who was far too strong for Alonso and comfortably slotted the ball past Courtois from the edge of the six yard box. United had simply passed the ball through the middle of the Chelsea defence.
The game continued to ebb and flow in the early part of the second half, with Chelsea generally looking comfortable. De Gea was struggling with the low sun, and mishandled an awkward shot from Drinkwater, but the ball was eventually cleared. Mourinho decided that his team needed a lift, and replaced the intermittently effective Martial with the lively Lingard on around 65 minutes.
United soon produced one of the highlights of the day, with a Sanchez cross being superbly volleyed by a swivelling Lukaku and bringing a tidy save from Courtois. De Gea almost gifted Chelsea the lead once more as a Willian free-kick momentarily squirmed away from him, but he grabbed it at the second attempt. Conte then replaced Hazard with Pedro.
United regained the lead in the 75th minute. A rather hopeful ball found Lukaku on the right. He turned away from Rudiger, and evaded a half-hearted challenge from Pedro, to curl in a left-footed cross which was met with a neat header from an unmarked Lingard, leaving Courtois helpless.
Chelsea had perhaps been punished for attempting to settle for a draw, although they almost regained parity late on, when a neat finish from Morata was ruled out for a very marginal offside. Naturally, Conte was unhappy about this afterwards, but perhaps his substitutions were an equally significant factor. Mourinho will have been satisfied with the outcome, and will have been pleased to see Chelsea fall six points behind United.