Eden Hazard’s man of the match performance was too much for Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United on the day. Chelsea scored early and held Manchester United off just enough to win the game and end a low-key season on a high.
The game was a balanced one, with Chelsea lucky to capitalize on Phil Jones’ mistake in the first half. While Chelsea had only 40% of the ball in that half, the Blues had better chances than their Manchester United counterparts. David de Gea made some key saves but could not do anything on Hazard’s penalty.
In the second half, Mourinho’s team upped the ante and started pushing forward towards Courtois’ goal. The Belgian stopper was at his best, saving everything the United forwards threw at him. Chelsea defended deep, relying on the speed of Hazard and ball protecting skills of Olivier Giroud to counter attack and ultimately ended the game as deserved winners.
Hazard vs Jones key to game
Had Phil Jones been able to control the threat that Eden Hazard is, this game might have ended up differently. Jones struggled to defend against the Belgian’s speed and trickery and cost United a goal early on in the game. Manchester United were lucky that the “double whammy” has now been addressed in the rules and thus Michael Oliver correctly booked Jones with a yellow instead of a straight red (because he was attempting to play the ball). If Jones is a starter for England against Belgium at the World Cup, he will need to do much better than this.
There were many other occasions where Hazard showed his quality against the United defence and had United fans wishing they had a player of this calibre.
Manchester United wasteful
Alexis Sanchez was signed to be exactly that player for the Red Devils but his wastefulness prevented his team from attacking properly throughout the game. He was not the only offender but was probably the worse on the day. In contrast, Paul Pogba did well to keep possession in difficult situations and was trying to affect the game with his long passes and lung bursting runs. He almost equalized in the 82nd minute when he was left unmarked by a tired Chelsea defence on a corner but his header went just wide of the target.
Anthony Martial showed once again why he is one of the most frustrating talents at Old Trafford. As soon as he came on alongside Lukaku in the 73rd minute, he showed his dribbling skills and pace but in the 88th minute, with his teamates trying hard to open up the Chelsea defence, he fumbled an easy cross, which could have ended up in a goal scoring opportunity.
Ngolo Kante’s brilliance
Kante was everywhere today, making interceptions, joining the attack, committing the professional foul when needed. He is truly the engine of Chelsea’s midfield. In the 69th minute, he even walked through the United defence to find Marcos Alonso, strangely in the left forward position, whose shot was saved by David de Gea. He is a close second for the man of the match, edged by only Hazard, who was instrumental in Chelsea taking the lead.
Antonio Conte wins his second major trophy at Chelsea and showed exactly why the board should do everything they can to keep him at the club. The grit he instilled in this players won the game today. Jose Mourinho on the other hand will already have started thinking on his plans for next season and how to bridge the gap between his team and european elites such as Real Madrid and Manchester City.
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