To February’s Carabao Cup triumph Erik ten Hag provides the gilded prize of Champions League qualification, and his first 12 months in command of Manchester United might nonetheless finish with FA Cup glory too.
The coup de grâce was utilized by the irrepressible Bruno Fernandes within the closing phases. The Portuguese nutmegged Wesley Fofana, and the defender clipped his ankle. The referee, Stuart Attwell, awarded a penalty: Fernandes took the spot-kick by ready for Kepa Arrizabalaga to commit himself, then aimed the ball straight and in.
Cue some unnecessary anger from every set of gamers for causes unclear earlier than Fernandes turned creator. The hapless Fofana determined to clear a regulation ball straight to his nemesis. He fed Marcus Rashford, who dummied Arrizabalaga and completed.
United hunted for the purpose they wanted to seal qualification with Rashford a substitute after sickness and the momentum of two wins in a row pushing them ahead. There was, too, a snap within the problem of Fernandes on Conor Gallagher that led to a nook, as United attacked in waves.
A Carney Chukwuemeka shot supplied a response but it surely was solely a quick glimmer for the guests as a result of they had been quickly breached. The concession was easy – annoyingly so for Frank Lampard – as Christian Eriksen dropped a free-kick from the left on to Casemiro’s head. The Brazilian, unchallenged, did the remaining.
One ought to have develop into two seconds later. Jadon Sancho, alongside an inside channel, tapped the ball into Fernandes in entrance of Arrizabalaga’s objective however his contact was clumsy. As remorse lingered over the Portuguese, Chelsea went near forcing him into self-recrimination mode. Kai Havertz broke down the fitting and squared for Gallagher however he was off the tempo and inches from connecting.
Contested in fading night daylight, the sport ranged from finish to finish enticingly. Fernandes pinged the ball into Anthony Martial who spun it on for Antony. To nobody’s shock, he chopped inside and took intention along with his favoured left foot however the shot careered previous Arrizabalaga to his proper.
The ahead selected much better when Eriksen punted a go into his path and he padded ahead earlier than teeing up Martial. The Frenchman ought to have shot immediately however took a contact as a substitute, and César Azpilicueta poked a toe in to douse the hazard.
By the twenty eighth minute there was the unhappy sight of Antony being taken off on a stretcher after what appeared an innocuous Trevoh Chalobah problem. Rashford changed him, with United’s prime scorer going to the left and Sancho transferring over to the injured man’s wing.
Chelsea’s lack of a No 9 regardless of a £600m switch spend is an apt shorthand for his or her misplaced season. When Enzo Fernández sprayed the ball left to the 18-year-old Lewis Corridor the fullback delivered a scrumptious cross that begged to be headed in from yards out. But it surely was geared toward Havertz, who has been compelled into working at centre-forward and is not any pure predator. He missed the goal by a number of postcodes.
Lampard despaired after witnessing that however would have been extra cheered by a Mykhaylo Mudryk burst that had United scrambling to clear, one other opening the Ukrainian might need prospered from, Gallagher driving in behind and a Corridor try blocked. Even higher was a Noni Madueke flip and go to Fernández. The Argentinian then discovered Gallagher, whose effort skimmed marginally large.
There was no ruthlessness from Chelsea and United quickly confirmed them apply the rapier. From close to Chelsea’s space Casemiro threaded a no-look go to Sancho that break up the guests’ defence . They might solely watch as he fed Martial who completed.
Fernandes ought to have completed the identical after a pointy Victor Lindelöf counterpress pilfered the ball off a dawdling Gallagher and the defender steered it into Sancho. He dummied and handed to Fernandes however, from near-in, the ball was crashed wastefully off the upright.
Additional possibilities had been spurned for United as Eriksen’s stab was palmed off the road by a flailing Arrizabalaga, whereas Casemiro’s try had Ten Hag elevating his arms in celebration earlier than he noticed it flash large. It was breathless and lax from United they usually almost paid immediately: Chelsea, by way of Azpilicueta, compelled a nook and Corridor wheeled into the world to let fly at David de Gea, who beat the ball out.
The reduce and thrust of proceedings was soundtracked by an invigorating and deafening roar as United countered once more for an umpteenth time. Fernandes raced into Chelsea’s space and reduce the ball again but his radar was awry: his go was behind Rashford, who slipped to permit these in blue to flee.
There would, absolutely, be one other objective as holes had been being punched all over the place. Fred and Alejandro Garnacho entered for Eriksen and Martial and, sure, a 3rd objective adopted for United. The younger Argentine was the provider of the go that put Fernandes in for the penalty he transformed, earlier than Rashford added one other. João Félix registered for Chelsea but it surely was comfort solely.