Mourinho masterclass as United beat Chelsea 2-0
Manchester United produced arguably their best performance of the season to damage Chelsea’s title charge with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday.
United boss Jose Mourinho made the controversial decision to bench his star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and in-form winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan before kick-off and handing the captain’s armband to bit-part player Ashley Young, putting the omissions down to fatigue following Thursday’s Europa League tie at Anderlecht.
Although the line-up drew no shortage of raised eyebrows, it soon became apparent that Mourinho had his tactics spot on, United’s pacey formation quicker to the ball and forcing Chelsea into errors.
United’s opener set the tone for the match, Ander Herrera gaining the rub of the green as the ball bounced off his hand before feeding Marcus Rashford, who slotted past Asmir Begovic from an acute angle.
The excellent Ander Herrera, who man-marked Eden Hazard for much of the match, added a second shortly after half-time after his powerful shot deflected off the heel of Kurt Zouma, a late replacement for the unwell Marcos Alonso.
Victory marked a first win over Chelsea since 2012 and a first for Jose Mourinho over his former club, the result leaving Chelsea just four points clear of chasing Tottenham Hotspur with six matches remaining. Manchester United move into fifth, four points behind neighbours City but with a game in hand.
Who needs Zlatan and Mikhtaryan? The starting line-up drew tweets of exasperation and frustration from United fans but this result and particularly performance means that only a fool should criticise a manager who has done this so many times before.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ander Herrera (Manchester United): On any other day, Marcus Rashford would have got the nod but Herrera not only marked Eden Hazard out of the game, he also had a positive creative influence in the middle of the park and scored the second via a deflection. A superb performance.