Manchester United went into today’s Stamford Bridge clash desperate to pick up points against the league leaders, as they look to return to the Champions League next season.
Although, it was Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side that emerged victorious, securing a 1-0 win against the Red Devils, moving them a step closer to clinching the Premier League title.
Luke Shaw returned to the starting line-up for the first time since Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup, and despite the criticism that he has come under in recent months the 19-year-old provided United with a chance to go ahead early on. The former Southampton teenager sped down the left before cutting the ball back to Wayne Rooney on the edge of the box. Despite David De Gea’s celebrations, the captain put the ball narrowly wide.
Both sides continued to create chances throughout the early stages of the game. Hazard managed to slip the ball in to Fabregas in the penalty box, but De Gea got tight to the midfielder to stop the shot.
Although, it was the Red Devils who dominated throughout the first half an hour. Chelsea’s most noticeable player was Diego Costa, who was sat on the bench seemingly dressed up as a teenager in a backwards cap and puffer jacket. However, things didn’t go quite to plan for United, as Chelsea caught them on the break late on in the first-half. A fantastic back heel from Oscar put Eden Hazard clean through on goal, and the world-class Belgian slipped the ball under De Gea to put Chelsea ahead after 37 minutes.
Radamel Falcao believed that he had been fouled by Chelsea skipper John Terry in the build-up to the goal, and the pair proceeded to scuffle minutes later. The Colombian international almost won the battle moments later, as Rooney flicked the ball into him in the box, although his shot was turned away by Thibaut Courtois, and Chelsea went in with the lead at half-time.
The second-half remained much the same. Didier Drogba was booked early on for a second foul on Paddy McNair. However, moments later he nearly doubled Chelsea’s lead after a dodgy Herrera pass allowed Chelsea to break. It was clear throughout the game that Drogba’s age is beginning to catch him up, as the Blues legend failed to get past Chris Smalling. Although, he did manage to get a shot away, which De Gea turned into the path of Hazard. However, the angle proved too tight for the Belgian, who struck the post.
Shaw continued to impress down the left, continuously pumping balls into Chelsea’s box. Mourinho made the first substitution of the game, bringing on Ramires for Oscar in order to try and neutralize Shaw’s impact on the game.
Despite a poor season, Falcao’s contribution today wasn’t all that bad. Fellaini’s ball found its way to the Colombian in the 6-yard box after 71 minutes, but Gary Cahill stuck out a foot to block the shot. However, minutes later Falcao turned past Kurt Zouma to find himself free in Courtois’ penalty area, but his left-footed strike cracked against the post, which summed up his time at United perfectly.
Both sides continued to create chances throughout the half, although finishing appeared to be an issue. Blues fans were given a few scares as the game drew to a close. Eden Hazard took a knee to the back of the head as the game went into added time, which could have had a significant impact on Chelsea’s last few games, but he soon returned to his feet.
The last of four added minutes saw Herrera go down in the Chelsea box. Although, Mike Dean was having none of it, and subsequently booked the Spaniard for diving – a decision which proved to be the correct one.
The game ended and the Stamford Bridge crowd celebrated like they had already won the title. It isn’t quite over yet, but the 3 points moves them a step closer to the Premier League crown. The Blues only need to win their next two matches in order to clinch the title.
Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta,
Oscar, Fabregas, Hazard,
[infobox]Manchester United XI:
Valencia, Smalling, McNair, Shaw,
Mata, Rooney, Fellaini, Young,