Manchester United produced an incredibly disciplined display to inflict a 2-0 defeat over league leaders Chelsea in their English Premier League clash at Old Trafford on Sunday.
- Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0
- Ibrahimovic benched
- Alonso injured in warm-up
- Rashford opens scoring
- United lead at the break
- Herrera doubles the lead
- Red Devils move into fifth
Marcus Rashford scored the opening goal of the game as early as the seventh minute in a thoroughly entertaining first-half that the home side dominated.
United took the first-half momentum into the second, and it took them just four minutes to double the lead through the impressive Ander Herrera, after being set up by captain Ashley Young – which proved to be the winning strikes of the heated fixture.
Before the highly anticipated fixture even started, there were major talking points in the fixture – which was a must win for both sides.
Manchester United needed three points to keep their top-four aspirations alive while the Blues were looking to gain their seven point advantage over second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Jose Mourinho shocked the home supporters with the decision to 'rest' Zlatan Ibrahimovic in favor of Marcus Rashford up-front and deploying a 3-6-2 formation with Ashley Young captaining the side from left-wing-back.
With many bewildered faced prior to the kick-off, the Blues suffered a major blow with Marcos Alonso suffering an injury in the warm-up, forcing Antonio Conte to reshuffle his defence, as Victor Moses moved to left-back.
However, what came next was beyond both supporters expectations. For totally different reasons.
The Red Devils produced a first-half display reminiscent of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, with extreme pace, aggression, vigor and attacking intent and camped inside the league leaders half.
Marcus Rashford impressed with his tireless running throughout and was rewarded in the seventh minute for his efforts. After initially missing a guilt edged chance a few moments earlier, the teenage striker made no mistake with his second opportunity.
Running just behind the off-side line, Ander Herrera picked the United youth product out with a sumptuous through ball and Rashford showed great commitment, pace and composure to hold off David Luiz and slot the ball beyond Asmir Begovic – sparking an enthralling display of Premier League football.
Chelsea had no answers for United's high pressing game in the opening half, but Conte's side improved dramatically in the second.
However, the improvement only arrived once they were two goals down. Ashley Young who turned back the clock with a vintage display disposed N'Golo Kante before finding Herrera. The diminutive midfielder's shot then deflected off Kurt Zouma and wrong-footed Begovic.
At that point, the midfield trio of the Spain international, Paul Pogba and Maroune Fellaini kept Chelsea's attack quiet, with Eden Hazard in particular gaining now joy.
Conte reacted to the tactical vulnerability by throwing on Cesc Fabregas to gain more control in midfield, and switched to a 4-3-2-1 formation.
However, Mourinho countered the tactic by replacing the impressive Jesse Lingard, for veteran midfielder Michael Carrick in order to consolidate the lead and bring composure into the United midfield.
And the home side managed to see out the game despite some frantic end-to-end football in the closing stages.
The result sees United move six points off third place Liverpool, with two games in hand and four points of forth placed City with one game in hand – while the visitors remain four points ahead of Spurs.