Blues and Red Devils Square Off


Written By: Robert Halter


Maurizio Sarri was seeking to be the first Chelsea manager to remain unbeaten in his first nine Premier League games as Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho returned to his former club. In the ninth minute, after Nemanja Matic brought down Eden Hazard, a free kick by Willian, ballooned over the wall and out of play. In the sixteenth minute, from a deep cross by Luke Shaw, a header from Romelu Lukaku, went wide of the top left hand corner. In the twentieth minute, Mateo Kovacic supplied Hazard, whose low cross was turned behind by Shaw, and from the resulting corner by Willian, driving forward, Antonio Rudiger, sent a low downward header, into the bottom left corner, to put the Blues ahead a minute later. On the half hour mark, from an over the top ball by Rudiger, taking an extra touch, Marcos Alonso lost his footing, with just David De Gea, to beat. In the fortieth minute, from a pass across by Hazard, a strike from Alvaro Morata, went high and wide to the right. The Blues tried to force home their advantage, two minutes into the second half, when Jorginho surged forward, and he released the ball to Morata, who on the turn struck a tame effort towards De Gea, who dropped to his right and made the save. In the forty ninth minute, following a forward pass by Kovacic, running down the left, Hazard was obstructed from a lunge into him by Ashley Young, but he still managed to strike a shot into De Gea, at the near left post. The Blues maintained the pressure, as Willian’s corner was punched clear by De Gea, in the fifty first minute. But the Red Devils fought back in the fifty fifth minute, through Paul Pogba’s pass, when from Shaw’s cross, Alonso’s header as he fell to the ground went to Mata and as Kepa Arrizabalaga stopped his shot, the ball was put back in on the left by Mata, and as a David Luiz header and then a Kovacic header was misplaced, a cross shot by Young, deflected off Jorginho, and Anthony Martial struck a right footed shot, from the centre of the box, into the bottom left corner. It gave United their best passage of play, as Matic laid the ball off to Pogba, who drove a high ball over the top. In the sixty fifth minute, after being fouled by Shaw, taking the free kick, Willian put the ball over to Luiz, whose header pinged over the top left corner and out of play. The Blues later brought on Ross Barkley for Kovacic. On seventy one minutes, after Hazard and then Willian combined down the right, from outside the area, a low drive by N’Golo Kante, was pushed away at full stretch from De Gea. But within two minutes, the Red Devils turned the game around, when Mata ran the show down the right, and Marcus Rashford set up Martial, who drilled the ball into the bottom right corner. Chelsea then switched Willian with Pedro, after which Man U took off Mata for Ander Herrera. The Blues soon afterwards took off Morata for Olivier Giroud. In the eightieth minute from a headed pass by Lukaku, it cleared the way for Herrera, who was kept out by a double footed block from Arrizabalaga. The Red Devils later replaced Martial with Andreas Pereira before Alexis Sanchez was brought on for Rashford. In stoppage time Chelsea pressed for an equaliser, as Kante’s neat touch went to Cesar Azpilicueta, whose shot flew out to the right, and then from Barkley’s pass, the ball was struck over from Hazard. But in dramatic fashion, from Azpilicueta’s cross, a header by Luiz crashed against the right post, and following up the rebound, Rudiger’s nod down was pushed out by De Gea, only for an alert Barkley, to turn the ball into the bottom right corner from very close range, for a last gasp Chelsea equaliser in the sixth minute of stoppage time. An enraged Mourinho clashed with security, after Sarri’s assistant coach, Marco Ianni, celebrated the goal in front of Mourinho’s technical area, by running and punching the air, which provoked Mourinho to try and confront him when he went back to his seat as both Azpilicueta and Rudiger had to be held back from Mourinho’s bench just before the final whistle.