Chelsea beat Man U. on Sunday evening, shutting up the mouth of Antonio Conte’s critics, following their inconsistent Premier league title defense this season.
Jose Mourinho, started with a defensive line up of Jones, Smalling and Eric Bailly while his wing-backs were Valencia and Young while Chelsea started with Fabregas, Kante and Bakayoko in midfield to close Man U’s ranks.
The match started with quick exchange of free flowing football from both sides and it wasn’t quick before the ball found itself into the net.
Oops . Phil Jones scored an own goal? No! The referee awarded a foul after Alvaro Morata pushed Jones which resulted in the defender putting the ball into his own net.
Man U then went on the counter, Ashley Young crossed the ball into the 18 yard box and Rashford’s header just flopped across the net.
The match had adrenaline packed into it all through and a quick counter from Chelsea resulted in Bakayoko wrongly shooting the ball into the skies.
Bakayoko had another chance to make amends with another opportunity in the first 15 minutes and his shot clipped the foot of Bailly resulting in a corner.
Stamford Bridge was electrifying- no one knew what to expect, serious end to end action. Both teams wanted the ball and both teams fought for it!
Man U attacked, Lukaku shot, Courtois punched, Ashley Young shot, defender blocked, the reds were on the ascendancy.
Hazard shot a thunderous ball which was wonderfully saved by De Gea, wow! The resulting ball was headed towards the side net by Cesc Fabregas.
Bakayoko had plenty of touches but his lack of sensible penetration and accurate passes in the midfield zone showed how much Chelsea missed Matic.
Man U, new masters of ‘shutting up shop’, ensured that Chelsea were limited to forays outside the 18 yard box with no real penetration.
In terms of possession, there was nothing much between both teams but Chelsea were the more positive team in terms of advances forward, at least for the last twenty minutes as Man U had only 1 touch in the penalty area through out the first half.
Chelsea 0-0 Man U
The second half started with no substitutions for both sides, and Chelsea fans must have expected more action from their team in this half.
Attack upon attack, the Blues came at Man U, Hazard’s shot calmly saved by De Gea, at a time when Man U’s defense looked shaky.
Then in the 54th minute, Morata!!!
Azpilicueta started the counter for Chelsea, and his cross found Morata’s head, whose stunning header left De Gea dumbfounded much to the delight of coach, Antonio Conte.
Chelsea 1-0 Man U
The stadium erupted! Mourinho brought out his note pad, the Portuguese tactician had been a master of useful substitutions this season, but could he do it again, against a vibrant Chelsea side?
Mourinho introduced Fellaini and Martial, removed Jones and Mhikitaryan, changing his shape to a back four, with Rashford and Martial operating through the wings while Herrera man marked Eden Hazard.
The midfield battles began, Matic, Alonso, Fabregas, Herrera, Fellaini, the battle for short and long balls became epic.
Chelsea introduced Rudiger to hold onto their lone goal- the reds were not going to lose without a fight.
With 15 minutes to go, United were with only one shot in the 18 yard box, Lukaku was quiet and dormant, his lone striker game wasn’t holding any water .
Fellaini sloppily lost the ball and Bakayoko capitalized on it but his final ball, was missing. A minute later, Eden Hazard shoots, and De Gea saved the ball.
Chelsea continued pressing, it looked like Jones removal from the match exposed Man U’s defense to forays from Chelsea’s attackers. Morata and Hazard proved a handful for Bailly and Smalling then Mourinho tried to go for the jugular, removed wing back, Ashley Young, for attacker, Jesse Lingard. Would this move pay off with roughly 10minutes to play?
Man U attacked but Rashford’s cross wasn’t met by either Fellaini or Courtois. Man U had forays of attacks then Rashford’s blistering shot slightly missed target.
Three minutes to go, all the onus were on United and Lukaku looked so confused leading the line for the Reds.
Fellaini shoots m, Courtois saves, Matic crosses , Fellaini misses again. Desperate times for Man Utd. Four minutes extra times .
Man U attacked upon attack upon attack. Chelsea had a break and Morata flopped a one on one situation with De Gea. Man U had a free kick with one minute to go but Rashford’s free kick got deflected as a corner.
Chelsea ran out as eventual winners during a thrilling night in London.