Alvaro Morata scored the decisive goal in a tightly contested game at Stamford Bridge to keep all three points in London.
Jose Mourinho’s second loss to Chelsea since becoming Manchester United boss meant that United fall eight points behind Manchester City in the League.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have gained valuable ground in the race for the top four, moving up three places – going above Burnley, Arsenal and Liverpool. Going into the International break, it’s evident that Antonio Conte will be the happier of the two managers
Both teams started brightly, with pragmatism surprisingly thrown out of the window. An eventful opening 10 minutes saw United’s Phil Jones put the ball into his own net, but the whistle was blown due to a foul by Morata, while Marcus Rashford moments later missed a golden opportunity – heading inches over the bar.
Testing the waters early on, Romelu Lukaku looked up for this huge game as his driven effort was parried wide by David De Gea. United started the game on the offensive away from home, contrastingly heavily to their approach to the big games in recent weeks.
Stemming from Mourinho’s desire to beat his former side, the United players fought hard in an end-to-end opener where the away team were the better side in the opening quarter. However, Chelsea grew into the game as the first half progressed, applying pressure on the United midfield and winning the ball back more frequently.
Despite both side’s attacking presence, it remained goalless at the break. It would be Chelsea that would find the breakthrough – just 10 minutes into the second half through Morata. A long pass by Cezar Azpilicueta was met by Morata, whose perfectly executed header saw the ball fly into the net – leaving De Gea on his heels.
GOOOOAAAALLLLLLL!! Morata with a typical number 9’s header into the top corner! Azpilicueta delivers it right on the money. 1-0. #CHEMUN
— 90min (@90min_Football) November 5, 2017
Breaking a six-game goal drought, the Spaniard looked more like the player that we saw pre-hamstring injury than in recent weeks. His compatriot Cesc Fabregas was the man truly running the show, however, with his range of passing dominating proceedings by creating numerous chances for the home side.
United began to grow frustrated, with Mourinho throwing caution to the wind with his double substitution of Marouane Fellaini and Anthony Martial. Offensively, the away side just didn’t create enough going forward – despite their best efforts to try to be more open and progressive.
Fellaini had a golden opportunity with minutes to go, bringing the ball down on his chest and firing towards goal but Courtois was quick to react. The plan to score was route one to say the least, with United looking to impose their physicality in the Chelsea penalty area. In the absence of Paul Pogba, the lack of creativity is clear for all to see.