Álvaro Morata scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening.
The Spaniard headed the winning strike 54 minutes into the game as he latched onto an excellent cross from César Azpilicueta to give the home side a much-needed three points after the horror-show in Rome during mid-week.
Open affair at the Bridge
The Blues were the first to have the ball in the net as United defender Phil Jones speared a Marcos Alonso cross into his own net. The referee however contentiously ruled the goal out though for a push on the England defender by Álvaro Morata. Marcus Rashford then went close for the visitors as he headed an Ashley Young centre over the crossbar.
Bakayoko really should have opened the scoring only minutes later. A wonderful lofted ball from Andreas Christensen, who replaced David Luiz in the Chelsea team, found Zappacosta on the right. The Italian crossed to Bakayoko in space but the former Monaco man scooped high and wide. He then went close again only seconds later as his low drive skidded wide.
Morata the man for Chelsea
Former Blues’ forward Romelu Lukaku was the next to try his luck in an electric start at the capital. The 24-year-old unleashed a dangerous curling drive from just outside the area but saw his shot well stopped by Thibaut Courtois. His Belgian team-mate Eden Hazard had an effort from range as he cut in from the right but De Gea was again equal.
Hazard enjoyed arguably the best opportunity in the opening stages of the second half as he attempted to sweep home an Alonso cross but the Spanish goalkeeper was positioned well to stop his drive.
He could not do anything though as Morata rose highest to open the scoring at Stamford Bridge. A pinpoint cross from César Azpilicueta picked out the ex-Real Madrid striker and he did the rest as he expertly headed beyond De Gea as the home fans rose to their feet and Antonio Conte’s men snatched the lead.
Mourinho shuffles the pack
In an attempt to rectify the score-line, United boss Mourinho made two quick-fire changes; Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Phil Jones were replaced by Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini.
It was the Belgian who could have secured the three points, however, for United’s opponents. The midfielder got in a mix-up and gifted the ball to Bakayoko who tore down on goal. The Frenchman though could not convert as his shot slotted wide. Hazard then created an opening of his own but could only shoot straight at De Gea.
Marcus Rashford looked to be stealing a late point for José Mourinho’s troops as he unleashed a fierce volley from the edge of the area but it whistled just wide. Substitute Fellaini also went close but his effort was well-halted by Courtois as Chelsea were put under severe pressure. The Blues continued to defend excellently though and after four minutes stoppage time, claimed an excellent three points.
Antonio Conte’s men were good value for their victory at Stamford Bridge. Not only did the reigning champions create numerous wonderful opportunities against the Red Devils, they also defended stoutly, limiting their visitors to very little in the second period.
Initially, both sides exchanged blows as they aimed to seize an early advantage with each goal leading a charmed life. However, the Blues carved out the first chance of real quality as Morata headed the winning goal in an impressive second-half showing.
As a result, Chelsea remain in fourth in the Premier League table, only one point behind London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Meanwhile, Manchester United fall eight points behind Manchester City and they stay in second in the Premier League.
Chelsea: Courtois (7); Cahill (7), Christensen (7), Azpilicueta (8); Alonso (7), Bakayoko (7), Kanté (8), Zappacosta (6) (Rüdiger (6), 66′); Fabregas (7) (Drinkwater (6), 79′); Hazard (8) (Willian (N/A), 87′), Morata (8).
Manchester United: De Gea (7); Bailly (6), Smalling (7), Jones (5) (Fellaini (6) 62′), 62; Valencia (6), Herrera (6), Matić (7), Young (6) (Lingard (5), 78′); Mkhitaryan (5) (Martial (6), 62′), Rashford (6), Lukaku (6).
Goals: Morata (54′)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Yellow Cards: Bakayoko (20′), Jones (49′), Herrera (51′), Fellaini (71′)
Red Cards: N/A
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