Manchester United closed in on the Champions League places with victory over Chelsea as Frank Lampard’s side were left with a sense of injustice after contentious video assistant referee decisions went against them.
United closed to within three points of Chelsea in fourth place with headed goals either side of the interval from Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire at Stamford Bridge.
Martial glanced in Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross on the stroke of half-time before Manchester United captain Maguire powered in a header from Bruno Fernandes’ corner after 66 minutes.
Chelsea felt aggrieved as Maguire was fortunate to escape a red card for kicking Michy Batshuayi in the groin in the first half as they tangled on the touchline, despite the incident being examined by VAR.
And the review system denied them again when Chelsea thought substitute Kurt Zouma had made it 1-1. The goal was ruled out for a push by Cesar Azpilicueta on Brandon Williams, although replays showed United’s Fred put a hand on the back of Chelsea’s captain.
Chelsea’s frustration was complete when Olivier Giroud’s 76th-minute header was ruled out because his foot was in an offside position as he moved to meet Mason Mount’s free-kick.
Being on the right side of the decisions helped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s organised and diligent United side to complete their first league double over Chelsea since 1987/88.
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Solskjaer’s men grind it out
This was not a glittering performance by any means from Manchester United but it can be satisfactorily filed under ‘job done’.
VAR was United’s friend in two pivotal moments, with Maguire’s goal adding insult to injury as Chelsea felt – with understandable conviction – he should have been given a red card for kicking out at Batshuayi.
Where United had the decisive advantage over Chelsea was in front of goal, where they made the most of their rare opportunities with a clinical edge that was notably lacking in their opponents.
Martial was on the margins for most of the first half but showed his quality with an angled header beyond the grasp of Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero.
United sealed an important win that gives them hope of a top-four finish when Maguire escaped the attentions of Antonio Rudiger to head home.
New boy Fernandes will have added to Solskjaer’s pleasure with some nice touches, including a free-kick against the post as well as creating Maguire’s goal before he was substituted to a loud ovation from the away end in the closing moments.
It puts them firmly back in contention for the top four, with only five points separating Everton in ninth place from Chelsea in fourth.
Old failings haunt Chelsea
Chelsea manager Lampard’s constant gripe this season has been a lack of cutting edge to accompany some neat approach play and plentiful possession – and so it proved again here.
As they continued a slump that has brought only one win in six league games, Chelsea again paid a heavy price for once more failing to make the most of the opportunities that presented themselves.
With Tammy Abraham sidelined through injury, responsibility fell on Batshuayi – but the Belgium striker looked short of confidence and drew Stamford Bridge’s wrath when he missed two first-half chances.
The experienced Giroud looked more threatening when he came on but it was too late for Chelsea, who came up short again.
These are difficult times for Lampard as he must find a way to drag Chelsea out of their current form, get his strikers scoring and deal with a dilemma over his goalkeeper – with £71m keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga clearly behind 38-year-old Caballero.
It means the stakes are high in the battle for top-four places when Jose Mourinho’s Spurs visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime.
Man of the match – Eric Bailly (Manchester United)
Chelsea host Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday (kick-off 12:30 GMT) while Manchester United travel to Club Bruges in the Europa League on Thursday, followed by a Premier League game against Watford on Sunday (14:00 GMT).
Solskjaer’s away joy against top sides – the stats
- This is the first time Manchester United have completed a league double over Chelsea without conceding a goal since 1964-65.
- Chelsea have lost seven home games in all competitions this season, their most in a single campaign since 1994-95 (also seven).
- Chelsea have lost all five of their home league games when conceding the first goal this season; only two other sides have failed to recover a single point at home when conceding first in the Premier League this season (Norwich and West Ham).
- Manchester United scored with both of their first two attempts on target in this match and scored two headed goals in a Premier League game for the first time since November 2017 against Newcastle.
- Chelsea became the second side to have two goals awarded and then overturned by VAR in a Premier League match this season, following Sheffield United against Brighton in December.
- Anthony Martial has scored four Premier League goals against Chelsea; he hasn’t scored more goals against any other side. Those four strikes have come in his last three appearances against the Blues.
- Martial became the first Manchester United player to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances against Chelsea, and the third to score home and away Premier League goals against the Blues in the same season (Wayne Rooney 2011-12 and Eric Cantona 1992-93).
- Harry Maguire scored his first Premier League goal for Manchester United; each of his last four strikes in the competition have been away from home, with his first since January 2019 at Liverpool.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won all five of his away games as Man Utd manager against Chelsea and Man City in all competitions – more than the Red Devils had won in their previous 19 such games under Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho combined.
- Odion Ighalo became the 200th player to make an appearance for Man Utd in the Premier League, and the first Nigerian to do so.
- 4ChristensenSubstituted forZoumaat 45′minutesBooked at 59mins
- 2RüdigerBooked at 48mins
- 7KantéSubstituted forMountat 12′minutes
- 11PedroBooked at 64mins
- 23BatshuayiSubstituted forGiroudat 68′minutes
- 10WillianBooked at 35mins
- 1de Gea
- 29Wan-BissakaBooked at 79mins
- 17FredBooked at 59mins
- 53WilliamsBooked at 76mins
- 18Bruno FernandesSubstituted forDalotat 90+2′minutes
- 21JamesSubstituted forPereiraat 80′minutes
- 9MartialSubstituted forIghaloat 90+1′minutes
- Anthony Taylor
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Chelsea 0, Manchester United 2.
Second Half ends, Chelsea 0, Manchester United 2.
Attempt blocked. Mason Mount (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Pedro.
Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Odion Ighalo (Manchester United).
Attempt saved. Odion Ighalo (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Fred.
Substitution, Manchester United. Diogo Dalot replaces Bruno Fernandes.
Substitution, Manchester United. Odion Ighalo replaces Anthony Martial.
Mason Mount (Chelsea) hits the right post with a right footed shot from outside the box from a direct free kick.
Reece James (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United).
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Harry Maguire.
Attempt blocked. Pedro (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Reece James.
Attempt blocked. Reece James (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Nemanja Matic.
Pedro (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Luke Shaw (Manchester United).
Foul by Olivier Giroud (Chelsea).
Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Reece James (Chelsea).
Brandon Williams (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt saved. César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Willian.
Attempt blocked. Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left following a corner.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Attempt blocked. Mason Mount (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Manchester United. Andreas Pereira replaces Daniel James.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card.
Mason Mount (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United).
VAR Decision: No Goal Chelsea 0-2 Manchester United.
GOAL OVERTURNED BY VAR: Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) scores but the goal is ruled out after a VAR review.
Offside, Chelsea. Mason Mount tries a through ball, but Olivier Giroud is caught offside.
Brandon Williams (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Brandon Williams (Manchester United).
Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Antonio Rüdiger.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Eric Bailly.
Attempt blocked. Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Olivier Giroud.
César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.