On a day that was largely dominated by Manchester City’s 3-0 Carabao Cup final win over Arsenal, Chelsea were beaten 2-1 against former boss Jose Mourinho’s Man United at Old Trafford.
Mourinho’s counterpart Antonio Conte chose to bring Alvaro Morata back into the side at Pedro’s expense, while Danny Drinkwater replaced Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park.
Forcing the hosts to sit back
Chelsea started the game on the front foot and were almost in front inside five minutes when Marcos Alonso’s volleyed cross was met by Morata, who saw his shot cannon back off the crossbar. From the rebound, Eden Hazard forced a save at full stretch from David de Gea with a deflected shot.
Alexis Sanchez probably should’ve then equalised as he found some space in the box before prodding a very weak shot into the hands of Thibaut Courtois, a real chance to open the scoring for the Chilean. The breakthrough came on the half-hour mark for the Blues with their hero of midweek putting in a shift in both boxes.
Willian rose highest to clear a defensive corner, winning the ball as it dropped and he found Hazard’s feet 40 yards from goal. The Real Madrid target then slipped the ball back into his Brazilian teammate who had continued his run. As he did against Barcelona, Willian made no mistake as he went through one on one, rifling the ball past de Gea at his near post.
However, the visitors weren’t in front for long as their former striker, Romelu Lukaku, equalised. Anthony Martial held off two Chelsea defenders on the penalty spot and slipped the ball into the feet of his Belgian striker partner. Lukaku controlled the ball under pressure and slotted past Courtois from just seven yards out.
Super sub Lingard wraps up the win
The game opened up in the second half, allowing for much better viewing. Chances were few and far between; Morata had looked to have got away before being thwarted, while a Martial-Sanchez combination fizzled out.
Halfway through the second period, Lukaku had looked for all the world to have beaten his international teammate with a spectacular acrobatic effort, but Courtois was equal to it with a truly sublime fingertip save. The hosts were then allowed a great opportunity to take the lead and they didn’t need a second invitation.
Man United’s stand-out player was allowed too much space on the right-hand side and swung a lovely left-footed cross towards Jesse Lingard. The substitute gobbled up Lukaku’s perfectly weighted ball, firing a header into the corner without any challenge from the Blues defence. It came from a catalogue of errors for Conte’s side as neither Pedro nor Antonio Rudiger closed down Lukaku and no one was marking Lingard inside the 18-yard box.
With just five minutes left in the match, Morata managed to beat de Gea and find the back of the net, only for it to be flagged marginally offside. After looking at replays, there would have been very few criticisms if the linesman hadn’t raised his flag. The game ended 2-1 to United, which saw the Blues slide out of Champions League contention and into fifth, a disappointing afternoon for Antonio Conte which must’ve left him thinking his side deserved more.