Chelsea’s bid to finish in the top four took a hit on Sunday, as Manchester United come back from a goal behind to defeat the Blues at Old Trafford by the score of 2-1.
Willian’s opening goal for Chelsea was cancelled out by goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard, sending Manchester United back into second place in the Premier League and leaving Chelsea sitting in fifth after Tottenham snatched a late winner earlier in the day.
Perhaps sensing that Jose Mourinho would send his United side out to play a compact, counter-attacking game, Chelsea came roaring out of the gates.
Alvaro Morata could have given Chelsea the lead just five minutes in when he diverted Marcos Alonso’s drilled cross towards the United goal, only to see it rattle the crossbar with David de Gea stranded.
After getting caught on their heels for the first half-hour, Manchester United nearly went ahead with their first real attack. Alexis Sanchez found space 10 yards out from goal, but Anthony Martial’s cross was slightly behind the Chilean, forcing Alexis to take an extra touch and poke his shot straight at Courtois.
It was Chelsea that finally broke the deadlock on the counter. Willian collected his own cleared header from a free kick and went racing through the centre. His pass for Eden Hazard opened up space through the middle, and the Belgian’s return pass split the United defence, allowing the in-form Willian to smash it low past De Gea.
United equalised just before the half against the run of play when Lukaku finally found space inside the box and collected a lay-off from Martial to side-foot into the corner of the net beyond a sprawling Thibault Courtois.
Hazard had a chance a minute later after a quick free kick sent him through on goal, but United’s defence recovered and Hazard took a few too many touches before shaping to shoot.
Chelsea never quite recovered from that equaliser, and Mourinho changed things at the break. United started the second half with a little more energy and began to press Chelsea, and the Blues failed to create anything of note before United struck again.
Lukaku took advantage of some slack defending to whip in an uncontested cross that found Jesse Lingard unmarked behind Andreas Christensen, and Lingard’s header flashed past Courtois to give United a lead that their second-half play deserved.
Chelsea had the ball in the net for the equaliser when Morata finished from six yards out after a lovely ball from Cesc Fabregas, but the Spaniard was ruled just offside, though he appeared to be onside according to the replay.
That was Chelsea’s last chance of the match. In typical fashion, United did their job of seeing out the remaining 10 minutes without incident, and Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the Champions League places takes a massive hit.