Four-star Man United cut Cheslea to size, return to Champs League
Manchester United moved up to third and confirmed their place in next season’s UEFA Champions League with a 4-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Casemiro headed in Christian Eriksen's free-kick early in the game and Anthony Martial added a second from close range in first-half stoppage time. In between, Frank Lampard's side squandered a series of excellent chances and their wastefulness was costly.
Bruno Fernandes won and scored a penalty before Wesley Fofana, the man who had conceded the spot-kick, proceeded to gift the Portugal midfielder the ball for the fourth, allowing him to set up substitute Marcus Rashford. It was wretched from Chelsea.
It is one win in 13 games for them now -- 10 of them under Lampard. This was the youngest Blues line-up in Premier League history. Neither that nor Joao Felix's late goal provide much consolation. Where they lacked conviction, Casemiro and the rest were decisive.
The only disappointment for United, who move above Newcastle, was a troubling injury to Antony. But it was an otherwise good night for Erik ten Hag's team. They needed one point to end Liverpool's hopes of catching them. They won all three in style.
It hinted at being a different game early on, Mykhailo Mudryk spurning the first opening of the game, measuring his shot well wide of the far post after fine play by Lewis Hall. Chelsea paid for their profligacy when Casemiro beat Fofana to the jump at the other end.
The injury to Antony, on the receiving end of a robust challenge from Trevor Chalobah, may scupper his involvement in the FA Cup final. But here it only led to the introduction of the fit-again Rashford - and the stoppage time from which United made it two.
It was Casemiro who was the difference in that move. Kai Havertz and Conor Gallagher had both missed good chances but Martial could not miss when set up by Jadon Sancho, himself the recipient of a delightful no-look pass by the brilliant Brazilian midfielder.
Chelsea continued to push in the second half but it was all so loose and left them vulnerable. Fernandes hit the crossbar and then won a penalty when tripped by Fofana. He converted it himself and with any pressure off it was party time at Old Trafford.
The hapless Fofana was their accomplice. His poor pass invited the fourth, Rashford even skipping past him again before beating Kepa Arrizabalaga at the second attempt. Fellow substitute Alejandro Garnacho was denied the fifth by the crossbar. It was carnage.
The story of Chelsea's season, perhaps. Glimpses of individual quality -- underlined by Joao Felix's late strike -- but ultimately humiliating and lacking any kind of cohesion. Ten Hag and his team will hope that the best moments of their season are still ahead.