‘Football follows no script’ is what one can infer from this match. Before this match, Manchester United looked like a side that is weakened and strung out by the extra matches they have had to play as compared to Chelsea. But on the field, United looked anything but tired. They played with vitality and accuracy that came as routine for them during their world beating days. Marcus Rashford was a constant thorn as he made several Chelsea defenders look a bit foolish and kept them on their toes, even when they had the ball for longer periods late into the match. This is going to reverbrate across the top four of the league table.
Manchester United vs Chelsea, Match Highlights:
2221 hrs IST: FULL TIME!! And who would have thought that it would be Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea at the end of the match. Antonio Conte apparently has sleepless nights after defeats, this is going to be one of them. His team’s lead at the top of the table has now been curtailed to four points.
2218 hrs IST: Ashley Young ambles out of the pitch and Fosu-Mensah replaces him.
2214 hrs IST: Fabregas with a rash challenge on Carrick and rightly gets a yellow late in the game. Four minutes of added time.
2208 hrs IST: Rashford comes off for Ibrahimovic. Old Trafford stands for Marcus Rashford and he gets the warmest of embraces from Jose Mourinho.
2206 hrs IST: It seems Zlatan Ibrahimovic might be coming on for Manchester United. Meanwhile, Chelsea lose the ball and Young runs past two Chelsea players, David Luiz is the man who manages to stop him.
2203 hrs IST: Chelsea now dominating possession and United only too happy to let them.
2159 hrs IST: Chelsea playing with some urgency now and it is clear that United are looking to put men in front of goal now. Marcus Rashford the only let off for United and he has proven that he is all they need thus far.
2154 hrs IST: Rashford is having the game of the season here. He takes the ball inside the United half and gets past Luiz who puts a hand across him and Rashford seemingly goes down. The Englishman gets back up, wriggles free and before you know has taken a shot that is saved by Begovic.
2152 hrs IST: Chelsea bring on Willian for Matic. Conte taking off some of the defensive clips on the team now. It is only because of the way Chelsea have rampaged through the season that you feel that they still stand a chance, even as the game enters the 70th minute.
2150 hrs IST: Bailly takes the ball away from the feet of Costa inside the box with a perfectly-timed tackle. The resulting corner comes to nothing for the away side.
2147 hrs IST: Chelsea lose the ball deepish in their half and Carrick puts it straight into the path of Rashford up front. He takes a shot first time and it hits the side netting.
2144 hrs IST: Chelsea, despite the presence of Fabregas in midfield, finding it difficult to have any meaningful possession of the ball. United also make a change as Lingard is taken off for Michael Carrick.
2140 hrs IST: Substitution for Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas on for Victor Moses. Azpilicueta going to left wing back.
2134 hrs IST: GOAL!! Ander Herrera has doubled the lead!! Ashley Young beats Kante and takes a shot that is bounced back straight to Herrera who takes the shot first time, it takes a deflection off Kante and beats Begovic. Old Trafford is rocking and understandably so.
2128 hrs IST: Second half kicks off and it is the home side who have the first kick of the ball.
2113 hrs IST: HALF TIME! Its Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea. Costa slammed in a shot from almost the midfield are and it fizzes wide of the post. Not many would have predicted this scoreline at the end of the first half but it is a fair reflection of the game.
2108 hrs IST: A lovely one-two between Rashford and Lingard puts the former in and he puts in a cross. Cahill gets a head to it and it goes just over the cross-bar. That would have been a lovely own-goal and wouldn’t have been the first time in the season that Cahill has scored a stunner like that.
2105 hrs IST: A cross in to the United box, Costa and Rojo go for it and fall in a heap. Rojo puts his arm across the neck of Costa who clutches his face. Had the referee seen that, it probably would have been a dangerous situation for the United man.
2101 hrs IST: A rare period of possession there for Chelsea and Ander Herrera concedes a freekick around 35 yards to the right of goal. Hazard takes it, a low whip into the box but referee stops play for a foul on a United player.
2056 hrs IST: Rashford is turning it on here. Skips away from a Chelsea defender to put the ball into the empty space that is outside the box. Young picks it and lines up a shot that did no justice to Rashford’s effort to get the ball to him in the first place.
2050 hrs IST: United get a free kick from 40 yards out. Rashford takes it and it was a curler into the box. But it is a Chelsea shirt that gets to it first. A few minutes later Rashford puts in a vicious cross from the right that forced Begovic into a save. It’s all United at the moment and Rashford is wreaking havoc.
2044 hrs IST: Another chance there for United as Rashford leaves it for Lingard with a wonderful touch. Lingard gets it wide to Young who takes a few touches before putting it across the face of goal and Rashford only had to stick out his foot to bury the second. Replays show that the pace of the ball may have beaten him.
2040 hrs IST: Hazard dances his way into the middle and puts it out wide to Moses. The latter whips in a cross that is deflected off a Young and De Gea collects it from the air. A slight collision between Costa and Bailly that the referee has to sort out but nothing eventful.
2035 hrs IST: GOAL!! Marcus Rashford (7′) puts United forward!! Chelsea don’t get away with this one. Another ball right over the heads of the Chelsea defenders and Rashford was in behind them in a jiffy, moves into the box and this time, it’s a cool finish that goes through the legs of Begovic.
2033 hrs IST: Chelsea have got away with that one as David Luiz lost the ball to Jesse Lingard, it bounced off the later and came into the path of Marcus Rashford who swung his foot at it from outside the box. Had no power or control and it feebly roles out for a goal kick.
2029 hrs IST: Chelsea kick-off the match at Old Trafford! Both sides have their fair share of injuries but what Chelsea have over United is the fact that they simply have been better this season and proven that beating them is a herculean task.
2023 hrs IST: A slight change in the Chelsea line-up, Kurt Zouma replaces Marcos Alonso who seems to have picked up an injury during warm-up.
2008 hrs IST: Chelsea will be desperate to win this one especially after Spurs have curtailed their lead to just four points, the lowest it has been in what has to be two months now. Manchester United, on the other hand, have made it a bit of a habit of managing at least a draw at home. Their unbeaten run at home is something that would be sticking out like a thorn for Antonio Conte. At the same time, United are a jaded side, Ibrahimovic’s exclusion from the starting XI is only an indication of that. Juan Mata has been a major source of inspiration for them and his absence will also be felt up front. We might just see a bit of a defensive approach from Manchester United for the better part of the match, if not for its entirety.
1940 hrs IST:
“He’s tired – very tired,” says Mourinho on Zlatan. “I’ll try to protect him but let’s see the result. He’s on the bench and ready to help.” pic.twitter.com/4VhjH70Usn
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 16 April 2017
1928 hrs IST: Team news for the match,
Manchester United XI: De Gea, Valencia, Rojo, Darmian, Fellaini, Herrera, Young (C), Pogba, Lingard, Rashford
Chelsea XI: Begovic; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (C); Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard
1907 hrs IST: Well it seems Chelsea have been dealt with an early blow with the news that their first choice goalkeeper Thibaut Cortouis is reportedly ruled out of the match at Old Trafford. Although the news will be confirmed only when the two sides announce their team sheets, it is something that might give United some hope. That ‘hope’ must be a slender one as Chelsea have outclassed United in every way this season. They have been better than Manchester United in almost every way possible. Anything less than a win here for either side will be a bit of a disaster for both Conte and Mourinho.