Match Report: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester Utd
By Terry Copping
Chelsea and Manchester United were unable to be separated as they drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge; A Jorginho penalty was enough for Chelsea to earn a point after Jadon Sancho gave the Red Devils the lead.
The Manchester United interim to the interim boss, Michael Carrick, raised eyebrows with his decision to omit Cristiano Ronaldo from the Manchester United starting eleven. Instead, Carrick elected to start with Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic and Fred to protect a fragile back four that was without Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane.
It seemed like an attempt of desperation to halt the rot that had seen his predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, lose his job. Early in the second half, the decision looked like a masterstroke when Jadon Sancho rushed clear and with the help of a Marcus Rashford decoy, deceived Edouard Mendy with a swivel of the hips before slotting the ball home to give the visitors the lead. Ronaldo’s exclusion had eyebrows raised, now Sancho’s goal had mouths open.
The goal followed a clearance from Bruno Fernandes that Jorginho attempted to control despite being the last man; he failed and could only watch helplessly as United took the lead. Not the finest moment for the Ballon D’or nominee.
However, Jorginho was gifted the chance to make amends for his error when Aaron Wan-Bissaka inadvertently fouled Thiago Silva attempting to clear the ball. Jorginho stepped up and made no mistake, producing one of his iconic Jonathon Edwards-esque penalties sending David de Gea the wrong way.
Chelsea pushed for a winner after this, but an uncharacteristic mistake from Blues keeper Edouard Mendy handed Fred the chance to win it for United in the 88th minute. Fred intercepted a pass from Mendy and then appeared to try and recreate Eric Cantona’s famous chip, however it was a miserable attempt and easy for Mendy to gather. Keep your collar down Fred.
With almost the last kick of the game Antonio Rudiger left the whole stadium, including manager, Thomas Tuchel, with their hands on their head. Christian Pulisic done well on the wing and dug a cross to an unmarked Rudiger, but he sent his volley sailing over the cross bar, relief for United.
In the first half Chelsea dominated the ball and it looked like a training session at times. United did not produce any real attacking threat and came with the clear intentions to stay in the game for as long as possible and look to nick a winner on the counter, and that they nearly did.
Antonio Rudiger almost opened the scoring for Chelsea when his ambitious long-range effort rattled David de Gea’s crossbar. Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi also had half-chances in the first half, but failed to convert. It was a frustrating first 45 for Tuchel’s men.
In the second half Jadon Sancho’s goal meant Manchester United had something to cling onto, at times McTominay and Matic dropped into defence to form a back six, yes, a back six. After Jorginiho equalised for Chelsea, Werner, Ziyech and Rudiger had chances to take all three points but Manchester United hung on for a point.
Manchester City’s victory earlier in the day means Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League is reduced to a single point, whilst Manchester United are in eighth and five points off a Champions League place.
Tuchel’s men travel to a Watford next and will look to return to winning ways. Interim appointment, Ralf Ragnick, who watched from afar today, should be in the dugout for United for the first time when they welcome Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal on Thursday.