Man Utd deliver perfect response as Erik ten Hag gets it spot on in Chelsea win


Erik ten Hag needed a show of commitment from his side after the whispers of disunity which followed the defeat to Newcastle and he got it at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Two goals from Scott McTominay - in either half - lifted Manchester United into the top six, just three points behind their decorated rivals from across the city.

The Scotland international is now United’s top scorer this season with six. Ten Hag took direct action after the no-show at St James’ Park, dropping Marcus Rashford, and his revamped United line-up responded with a vibrant performance which, if not perfect, was certainly full of energy.

They registered 28 shots to 13 from Chelsea over the course of the game to extend their ten-year unbeaten home league run against last night’s opponents.

It was an attractive, fluid, occasionally chaotic contest - which was much to do with both sides’ weaknesses as their strengths - but even though Chelsea brought an admirable positivity to it, United deserved to win it. Ten Hag’s side could even afford a first-half penalty miss from Bruno Fernandes.

Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez threw himself to his right to keep out the spot-kick awarded by referee Christopher Kavanagh after a VAR intervention which picked up a stamp by Enzo Fernandez on the foot of Antony in the penalty area. At that point, it looked like it could be one of those nights for United but they brushed off the disappointment immediately.

Sanchez kept Chelsea in it as United laid siege to the visitors’ goal, blocking Alejandro Garnacho’s shot with his feet and then diving to his right to smother Antony’s strike. Chelsea, without the suspended Conor Gallagher, were in danger of being overrun.

The dam had to break and it finally did in the 19th minute through McTominay who was on hand to finish accurately after Harry Maguire’s shot had been blocked by Marc Cucerella. Sanchez made a remarkable double save to prevent McTominay making it 2-0 in the 32nd minute.

But Chelsea remained dangerous on the break and it took some equally sharp goalkeeping at the other end to prevent Nicolas Jackson equalising as Andre Onana raced out to block the Chelsea striker at close range after Raheem Sterling - who had earlier had a penalty shout turned down - had sprung the offside trap.

United had been warned and the visitors levelled in the 45th minute through Cole Palmer. The former Manchester City player drove into the United penalty area, outwitted Victor Lindelof and then, before Maguire could arrive, caressed a left-footed shot against the grain to beat Onana.

The momentum though remained with United who pressed strongly after the break and it was Sanchez again who was needed to deny McTominay as he directed a header goalwards. But there was nothing the Chelsea goalkeeper could do in the 69th minute to prevent McTominay restoring United’s lead as he powered his header home from close range from Garnacho’s cross.

He might have grabbed a hat-trick two minutes later after a horrible clearance from Sanchez but spooned his shot wide. United, with Rashford on United as a late substitute, could have been made to pay late on as Chelsea pressed but Armando Broja’s header struck the bar leaving the Londoners to head home empty-handed.

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