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Man United win, hand Chelsea title blow

Premier League: Manchester United defeat Chelsea Fc 2-0

Chelsea’s lead at the top of the English Premier League was cut to four points after their loss to arch-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Easter Sunday. Chelsea's title hopes suffered a blow with the loss of three points and Tottenham Hotspur are now only four points behind Antonio Conte's men, while Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils side boosted their own hopes for a top four EPL finish. The Blues failed to score even a single shot as goals from Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera sealed three points in an impressive performance by hosts Manchester United. The Red Devils’ No. 1 goalkeeper David de Gea returned from injury and gets credit for the clean sheet on Sunday afternoon.

Spurs remain four points behind Chelsea following their 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday. United moved back into fifth place, just four points behind noisy neighbors Manchester City, with a Manchester Derby coming up before the end of the season. Arsenal won their exciting match against Boro with goals from superstars striker Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Jose Mourinho enjoyed his team’s victory against his old club as he presided at the helm during one of Manchester United most enjoyable games of the season that no doubt gave his side renewed confidence going into their last games of the 2016-17 Premier League title race and Europa League tie. Mourinho lost his first two meetings with his former employers this campaign, and the “Chosen One” was determined not to lose again to EPL leaders Chelsea. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were both named on the bench for the match, and United captain Wayne Rooney is still out with injury.

Squads

Manchester United
De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Darmian, Fellaini, Herrera, Young (c), Pogba, Lingard, Rashford. Subs: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw, Blind, Carrick, Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic.

 

Chelsea
Begovic; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Matic, Zouma; Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard. Subs: Eduardo, Ake, Terry, Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Willian, Batshuayi.

 

After the hard-fought battle against Chelsea, Mourinho had special praise for youngster Marcus Rashford who opened the scoring for Man United and caused problems for the Blues’ backline throughout the 90 minutes. Rashford got ahold of Ander Herrera’s ball to slot past Asmir Begovic putting United in the lead in the first half. Herrera scored after the break, as his deflected shot flew past Chelsea goalie Begovic to double the Red Devils’ lead. “Maybe we didn’t ‘rest’ players ahead of Thursday, we just chose the team we thought was the best team,” said Mourinho. “We went to Stamford Bridge in the cup with same tactics, the game was totally controlled with 11 players, only the decision that made us play with 10 men for the second half and 10 minutes in the first half, gave Chelsea a chance to be dominant. We knew that playing this way would be very difficult for them. Marcus Rashford played fantastically well. He had a very good game at Stamford Bridge in the cup, exactly the same chance to score, because he is faster than their defenders.”

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho continued talking about Rashford’s key role in his win against Chelsea. “Today he scored and it gave the team more confidence, more stability.” Opening goalscorer Marcus Rashford talked with the media after the clash. “Today took a lot of discipline to carry out the game plan and actions,” said Rashford. “It’s not so much stepping up to the plate in Ibrahimovic’s absence, everyone is together and we grafted to put the work in to get the result. It was a clever pass from Herrera, we made eye contact and he put the ball exactly where I wanted it. It’s something we need in this team.”

Ander Herrera was asked about the opening goal, which saw the ball strike his hand in the build-up – a potential hand ball. “If you don’t have the intention to touch the ball and your hands are in a natural position it is not a handball,” said Herrera about the incident. Spanish international Herrera joined United from Athletic Bilbao in a £32m deal in 2014. The midfielder did not excel under the management style of former boss Louis van Gaal. However, Herrera seems to have flourished this campaign since Mourinho was hired to replace the Dutchman. Herrera produced a midfield masterclass to inspire his United side to a thrilling 2-0 victory against the league leaders Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday. Herrera also created the opening goal for Marcus Rashford in addition to scoring the second and managed to man-mark danger-man Eden Hazard out of the match. Herrera gives credit to his boss Jose Mourinho for his success and improvement at Manchester United. "I am very thankful to him, said Herrera. "This season has been the most regular one for me at the club and that is because Mourinho is on the bench. I am very happy. He gave me, from the first day, a lot of confidence and told me I was going to be an important player for him. I will always be thankful."

"Football changes. We have great players but United has the capacity to sign big players,” continued Herrera. "So I cannot sleep. I have to keep working, performing and giving what the manager wants from me. For me, it's about the team. Every game is going to be a final so we need to fight together. Hopefully we can try to get in the top four and we can also fight for the Europa League title as well.” Twenty-eight-year-old Juan Mata said he wanted to "jump onto the pitch" as he watched Manchester United beat his former club Chelsea. Spaniard Mata had to sit in the stands, having been ruled out for the rest of the season with a groin problem. Writing in his personal blog, Mata revealed he was desperate to be playing in the game.

"We move into mid-April and we do it in the best possible way: with a great win," said Mata, who competed for Chelsea between 2011 - 2014. It was a special game, an important one, and despite being in the stands I enjoyed the great atmosphere at Old Trafford and my team-mates’ great performance. Obviously, Chelsea was a very, very tough rival. They have been the most consistent team in the league so far, that’s why they have been on top for so many weeks and that’s why the score is so important for us, because we get back an extra boost of confidence for the week that is now starting. We were very solid and showed great competitiveness; I hope we can keep it like that because every single game is very important when you approach the end of the season.”

"As I said, I went to Old Trafford to see the game. You feel like you want to jump onto the pitch and help the team, but I must be patient and keep training to be back as soon as possible,” continued Mata. "I’m feeling better every day and your messages of support do help a lot. I can’t stop thanking you!" Next United host the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie with Anderlecht on the Road to the Europa League 2017 Final. "Now we must focus on the second leg of the Europa League tie against Anderlecht to maintain our goal, which is to win this competition." There is plenty more to play for in the final stages of the England Premier League season, with the title race and battle for Champions League qualification receiving new life after this weekend’s games.

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