Chelsea and Manchester United played out a fiery 2-2 draw with multiple yellow cards and some unsavoury scenes on the bench spilling onto the pitch as Maurizio Sarri’s side preserved their unbeaten status in the league with a last-minute goal from Ross Barkley.
Antonio Rudiger opened the scoring for Chelsea with a free header from a corner after the Blues started brightly. The German met a pin-point delivery from Willian, losing his marker in the process, and sent a bullet header past David De Gea to open his side’s account for the afternoon.
The Blues went into half-time 1-0 up after a cagey opening 45 minutes, but United equalised through Anthony Martial at the start of the second half after a frantic scramble in the box; a product of United’s continuing pressure as the intensity went up a gear inside Stamford Bridge.
Martial then added another to put United ahead with a delightful curled finish into the bottom corner; the Frenchman collected the ball from Marcus Rashford after excellent work from Juan Mata, and dispatched a clinical finish that was worthy of taking all three points back to Manchester.
However, it simply wasn’t meant to be. David Luiz went close towards the end of the game and after Rudiger attempted to draw Sarri’s side level, the ball fell to Barkley who swept home a dramatic equaliser that sent the Stamford Bridge faithful into a state of ecstasy.
Someone on the Chelsea bench provoked Mourinho causing some unsavoury scenes towards the end of the game, but after a seemingly endless international break, Saturday’s lunch-time viewing was a blissful reminder, if we ever needed one, as to just how good it is to have Premier League football back for another four weeks.
Martial sends a timely reminder
Anthony Martial was fantastic today for Manchester United. His pace and power down the left-hand side was crucial in United’s efforts. After enduring a relatively tough time at United under Mourinho, along with a few other players, today he showed just how good he can be.
When he moved to United in 2015 as a 19-year-old for £58 million, he was full of promise as a direct, powerful and pacey winger; showing exactly that on his debut against Liverpool. However, as with a lot of wide men before him, Mourinho appeared to not trust him and coach that flair out of him.
Yet today it was like the Martial of old showed up at Stamford Bridge. He never let Azpilicueta settle down the flanks and the two goals he scored were worthy rewards for his effort throughout the game.
Mourinho rallies his troops
A lot has been said about Manchester United in recent weeks and their first-half performance justified all the criticism that has been fired at them. Slow, sloppy and a clear lack of effort; all of this was true of United in the first half.
However, the second half was a huge turnaround for Mourinho’s side. United came out rejuvenated and were a completely different team. They were fast on the break and stronger than Chelsea in the tackle; they quite simply wanted it more. United still don’t look as strong as they ever did under Ferguson, but the heart they showed in the second half was a huge improvement.
Ashley Young: has the Englishman shown the world how to play against Hazard?
Early on in the game Ashley Young put in a strong physical challenge on the Belgian and took him to the ground but that put up a huge statement. He was saying I’m not going to let you pass today and it worked.
Hazard was limited to purely shots from out wide and from too far out to be a real threat. Whilst his speed and footwork was still threatening, as no amount of man marking can prevent that, he was nowhere near as dangerous as he had been in previous weeks.
Hazard will be back as United are without doubt a very strong team but he has proven he can do it against the biggest teams before and for United to shut him out is testament to their determination and attitude today, especially in the second half.
Man of the Match: Ashley Young
For me I have to agree with Gary Neville and give man of the match to Ashley Young.
The full back was fantastic in keeping Hazard quiet and his efforts were crucial in United getting a draw. Usually, when Hazard shines Chelsea win and today he couldn’t keep up his usual standards due to the work rate and defensive capabilities of Young.