Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge ended in disaster as his Manchester United side were blew away by a dominant Chelsea performance in a 4-0 win for the home side.
Pedro’s early goal had the home fans cheering within the first minute and Gary Cahill rifled in to have Antonio Conte’s side cruising at half-time.
Eden Hazard added to the score in the second half before N’Golo Kante got his first goal for the club to seal all three points and a memorable win for the Blues.
United were critically applauded for their defensive work in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield on Monday, but they fell apart within 30 seconds on an atmospheric day in West London. Hazard’s pass for Diego Costa was over-hit but a mix-up between Chris Smalling and Daley Blind allowed Pedro to sneak in and get past both defenders. David De Gea came bumbling off his line too and failed to clear the ball, with Chelsea’s Spanish winger rounding his compatriot and firing the Blues in front within 30 seconds.
It was a bad start for Mourinho’s men but they should have been level just seven minutes later. Antonio Valencia used a burst of pace to get past Mikel Alonso and clip in a lovely cross to the back post where Zlatan Ibrahimovic had pulled on to the much-smaller Cesar Azplicueta, but the Swede powered his header over from six yards. The summer signing from PSG has been in bad form and the miss shows a rare lack of confidence from the experienced forward.
Conte’s side looked a threat every time they got the ball and they doubled their lead in the 21st minute, thanks to some more poor United defending. Victor Moses’ corner should have been easily cleared by the Red Devils defence but the ball pinged around the penalty area before Cahill rifled a volley in off Blind from ten yards. Mourinho was furious but United looked like they weren’t sure on what tactics they were playing as the first half wore on.
United did create chances though and the game could have been so different if they managed to take one of them. Ander Herrera hit a hopeful-looking left-footed shot from 30 yards that Thibaut Courtois palmed back into danger, but the Belgian goalkeeper made up for his mistake as he leapt across to keep out Jesse Lingard’s goal-bound rebound.
With six minutes to go until half-time, an incident occurred that could prove to give Mourinho a gripe in his post-match press conferences. David Luiz went in for a challenge on Marouane Fellaini and provided an unlucky studs-up stamp that left the Belgian midfielder down in a heap. The referee, Martin Atkinson, saw this as a foul that warranted a booking, but replays showed that Luiz should have been sent back to the showers.
After half-time, United had a period of the game where they showed much improvement but still lacked an attacking threat with the misfiring Ibrahimovic looking harmless. Lingard’s rasping drive20 yards was the closest the away side came to reducing the deficit, but Courtois made a good save to push the ball away from danger.
Meanwhile, Chelsea looked like they were having fun at the other end as they grabbed two more goals to put the result with no doubt. The first came from a nice one-two between Hazard and Kante that Juan Mata and Smalling failed to defend, and the winger came inside onto his right foot and pierced the ball into the bottom corner. If Mourinho was unhappy with Smalling’s defending for the goal, it was about to get worse.
Kante was not known for his goal-scoring exploits when signing from Leicester City in the summer, but he grabbed his first Chelsea goal to seal the three points. The way he managed to twist away from weak challenges of Paul Pogba and Smalling was horrific for the away fans to watch, but on the other end of the scale, Kante’s superb rifled finish left De Gea with no choice and the player showed lethalness that not many people were expecting.
With the fruitful win, Chelsea ahead of Tottenham Hotspur into fourth place on goal difference and just a point behind Manchester City at the top while United sit in seventh and find themselves six points from the top of the table.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)