A fortunate Manchester United earned a smash-and-grab 2-0 win away at Chelsea on Monday. Goals from Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire were enough to seal the points on a night where the Blues had two goals ruled out after video review.
A lively first half started with a couple of dangerous snapshots. Reece James and Willian fired wide of David de Gea’s far post in quick succession, as Frank Lampard’s men started with a swashbuckle. United, however, had set up to counter, and the early probing of Daniel James gave the hosts occasional food for thought.
Nevertheless, it was Chelsea who continued to create the better chances, and midway through the opening period Michy Batshuayi should’ve buried Mason Mount’s low cross in the bottom corner. Instead, he spooned his shot wide from close range—the mark of a striker who’s scored only one league goal all season.
Eventually, the Blues were punished for their profligacy, but not until the very brink of halftime. A swift one-two between Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Fred culminated in the former swinging a fine cross into the area for Martial, whose glancing header beat the sprawling Willy Caballero to find the net.
It looked like Chelsea had wasted no time restoring parity when Kurt Zouma powered a corner home 10 minutes after the restart. Fortunately VAR came to United’s rescue, spotting a blatant push in the build-up that referee Anthony Taylor had initially missed, and the goal was chalked off.
From there, it was all about Bruno Fernandes. He soon curled a cheeky low free-kick against the bottom of Caballero’s near post, and followed it up by delivering another brilliant set-piece; this time a corner that proved the assist for United’s second. His whipped ball was met by a Maguire bullet, with the former Leicester man netting his first Premier League goal in over a year. It was extra fortuitous, with Maguire lucky to have escaped a red card for raising his studs to Batshuayi in the first half.
The game was not over, and soon only a brilliant last-ditch challenge from an impressive Eric Bailly denied Mateo Kovačić a clean run at goal. Luck, however, continued to smile on Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and moments later a superb Olivier Giroud diving header was ruled out upon review for a fractional offside.
Gladly, the only other moment of interest for United fans was the debut of Odion Ighalo, who came off the bench to replace Martial in stoppage time. 2-0 was how it ended, with the Reds thanking their lucky stars for their first league win in three. Did we deserve it? Possibly not, but we’ll certainly take it.