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Premier League Recap: Manchester United Blow Title Race Open; Tottenham Keep the Pressure On

Manchester United 2, Chelsea 0

  • Marcus Rashford (7′)
  • Ander Herrera (49′)

A goal and an assist from Ander Herrera propelled Manchester United to quite possibly the biggest win of the Jose Mourinho era, and in the process, have blown the doors on the title race wide open. Chelsea’s lead sat at 13 points just a few weeks ago, but have seen it dwindle down to just four points over Tottenham with six games to go.

Mourinho’s starting lineup saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic start on the bench alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with Marcus Rashford playing up top in place of the Swedish goal machine.

For one of the first times all season, Antonio Conte lost the tactical battle, with Mourinho’s unconventional 3-1-4-2 stymieing the 3-4-3 that has worked so well for Chelsea all season.

Ander Herrera was placed in front of the back three and did an excellent job man-marking Eden Hazard. Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young worked hard on the wings, and the pace of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford infused energy and speed into an often time static and one-dimensional Red Devils attack.

Scoring Summary

That was on display for the United’s first goal, just seven minutes after the opening whistle.

After claims off a handball on Herrera near mid-field were waived off, Herrera had time and space on the ball. He looked up and played a delightful through ball behind the defense for a streaking Rashford. Rashford took a touch away from a pressing David Luiz and his shot just skipped over Asmir Begovic, in goal for the injured Thibaut Courtois. The goal put United on the front foot, gave them the 1-0 lead, and ensured the Old Trafford crowd stayed in the game.

Chelsea was unable to answer before half-time, as United turned in a strong defensive effort typical of a Mourinho team. The Blues were unable to register a shot on goal in the entire game.

The home side’s second came just four minutes after the restart, as Herrera took possession of a pass from Young on the left side of the box. His shot took a wicked deflection off the foot of Kurt Zouma and swerved just past Begovic to double United’s lead.

Conte made substitutions and Chelsea pressed, but United always looked more likely to score a third than Chelsea a first, and in the end, United was able to see out the 2-0 win.

The loss is Chelsea’s second in fifteen days and has given life to Tottenham in the title race, with Spurs just four points back and with a large lead in goal differential.

United meanwhile sit just four points back of cross-town rivals Manchester City for the last Champions League spot, with a game in hand and a Manchester Derby still to be played on April 27th.

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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