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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019


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The international break is over — thank God, say all of you Irish football fans — and the Premier League is back with a bang.

The two weeks off could hardly arrived at a better time for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. Trailing Newcastle 2-0 after just a matter of minutes, United produced a sensational 3-2 comeback to temporarily lift the cloud that has descended over Old Trafford.

It gets harder before it gets any easier, however. With Juventus waiting in the wings, United first face a trip to Jose old stomping ground to take on Eden Hazard and a Chelsea side in scintillating form.

Can Maurizio Sarri’s men take advantage of the early start to go top of the Premier League?

Kick-off is at 12.30pm.

TEAM NEWS: Two changes for the hosts — Mateo Kovacic and Alvaro Morata both start; Barkley and Giroud are the two men to miss out.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Hazard, Morata, Willian.

TEAM NEWS: Two changes for United as well — Lindelof and Mata start in place of Bailly and McTominay.

Man Utd: De Gea, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Mata, Rashford, Lukaku, Martial.


KICK OFF: Mike Dean is the man in the middle and he gets us underway.


Eden Hazard appears to be limping in the opening few minutes but nothing too serious, for now.


First flicker of a chance for the hosts but Hazard doesn’t connect properly with his shot.


Lively enough opening few minutes but United haven’t really been able to make many meaningful forays into Chelsea territory just yet.


Jorginho floats a cross-field pass toward Hazard, and Ashley Young, arm outstretched, clatters through him. This could be a long afternoon for the Belgian.


OOOH! Chelsea take the free quickly and Matic clips Hazard right on the edge of the box — the free-kick award with Mike Dean’s typical panache. Chelsea are in a great position here…


Poor, poor effort. Willian, Luiz and Hazard stand over the free. Luiz signals to the bench that he might try to sneak it under the way, but in the end, it’s Willian who strikes it well high and well wide.


CHANCE FOR UNITED! Lukaku is unmarked and has a free header, 10 yards out from Shaw’s cross, but loops it to the left of the far post. He should have hit the target there.


Suspicion of offside as Chelsea attack through Hazard, but there’s no whistle. He pulls the ball back to Kante on the edge of the box but there are too many bodies between him and goal.

Flag 21Mins

GOAL FOR CHELSEA! Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United (Rudiger, 21′)

Chelsea lead – and it’s a set piece that proves to be Manchester United’s undoing.

Great work by Hazard down the left again, and he fizzes in a low cross that forces Lindelof to turn the ball behind for a corner.

From that, Rudiger is left unmarked in the United box, and he glances his header into the far corner.

Where was the United marking?


Paul Pogba is furious, but he only has himself to blame. Rudiger was his man and Pogba allowed him to steal a march of two or three yards at the corner. By the time Pogba woke up to the danger, it was too late.


Now, what can United offer by way of response? They had started the game well but a momentary lapse has cost them dearly.


Hazard gets out in front of Ashley Young and nicks the ball away. Young nicks Hazard’s legs away, and deservedly finds himself in the book. It’s going to be a long 65 minutes…


And now Rudiger follows Young into the book. He clipped Pogba with his arm while the two challenged in the air, and can’t really have too many complaints.


COULD BE 2-0! Rudiger floats a majestic ball towards Alonso, the United defence go completely AWOL, but Alonso’s touch is heavy and the ball bounces off his foot and out of harm’s way. If he’d controlled it, United were in serious trouble.


Alonso ventures forward and gets caught out of position, exposing Chelsea to a United counter down the left through Rashford. Hazard catches up with him and cynically clips him just outside before he can drive into the box. Yellow card.


Scramble in front of Arrizabalaga’s goal as the free arrives in, but Chelsea clear their lines before United can test the keeper.


Jorginho tries to clip a pass over Luke Shaw’s head for Willian to run on to, but there’s a little bit too much meat on it and it runs out for a goal kick.


There’ll be two additional minutes to end the half.


Willian sizes up Shaw again, and tries to shift the ball to give himself just enough room to get a shot away. Shaw is with him every step of the way, though, and makes a sliding block.


Not a vintage 45 minutes for Manchester United by any stretch of the imagination. They were containing Chelsea well up until the goal — which Paul Pogba will have to take his fair share of blame for — but in an attacking sense, it’s all been a little bit disjointed. A couple of counter-attacks aside, there hasn’t been a huge amount on offer.


SECOND HALF: We’re back underway. Can United mount some sort of a comeback here and ask a few questions of Chelsea?


Both sides unchanged to start this second half.


Smalling dashes into midfield like a headless chicken and, suddenly, unsurprisingly, a world of space opens up for Chelsea. Jorginho glides into space and finds Morata on the edge of the box. He rolls Matic but doesn’t make clean contact on the shot and it’s an easy save for De Gea.


Hazard tries to beat Young on the outside but Young is in close attention and slides across him. Hazard’s shot is dealt with by De Gea — but after the ball is gone, Young clips Hazard. Mike Dean doesn’t see any issue but anywhere on the pitch, that might well be a free kick.


Lovely flick by Eden Hazard. Luiz plays the ball into the Belgian’s feet and then carries on his run to collect the return, which Hazard backheels into his path. Smalling stands tall and gets a block on Luiz’s shot, and it goes behind for a corner.

Flag 55Mins

GOAL! Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United (Martial, 55′)

United are level! It’s their first gilt-edged chance, the product of a bit of chaos, but that hardly matters. It’s 1-1.

Arrizabalaga does well to stop Mata’s shot but Chelsea can’t get the ball out of the danger zone. Luiz and Kovacic half-clear it, but only as far as Young, who drives the ball back in from the right with real venom. It clips Jorginho and then Martial does brilliantly, killing the ball on his knee with his first touch, and then rifling it home with his second. Lovely stuff.


Pogba, with new-found confidence, has a pop from long-range. High and wide, but United sense that this game is there for them now.


Lukaku gets himself turned and running at David Luiz, but he can’t get back inside onto his left foot. Luiz sticks out a well-timed leg and pokes the ball behind for a corner, allowing Chelsea to regroup.


BIG CHANCE! David Luiz has a free header 10 yards out and he flashes it wide! Brilliant delivery from the free kick, Luiz gets across Lindelof and into a yard or two of space, but can’t guide his header on target. That really was an opportunity.


Yellow for Juan Mata. He ducked and dived through a few blue jerseys before the ball ran away from him, and in his eager attempts to get it back, he slid in and caught Azpilicueta late and high.


Very timely intervention by David Luiz. Lukaku gets to the bye-line and stubs a cross into the middle. If Luiz isn’t there to nod it clear, it’s an open goal and a tap-in header for Rashford.


Chelsea sub: Ross Barkley is on to replace Kovacic.


Great strength for Lukaku, recovering a ball he has no right to after his first touch lets him down. The blue wall holds firm and his attempt to drive through a shot on goal ricochets away.


GREAT SAVE! From the edge of the box, Kante arrows a shot that’s heading for the bottom corner but De Gea is a cross and gets a strong hand down to parry it away. Nothing wrong with the attempt; nothing wrong with the save.

Flag 73Mins

GOAL! Chelsea 1-2 Manchester United (Martial, 73′)

Smashing finish by Anthony Martial — and Manchester United lead!

It all starts with Mata out right who sucks in Luiz and then nicks the ball around him. He gives it to Rashford who moves it on quickly to Martial. He takes one touch to kill the ball and set himself, and then curls the ball past Arrizabalaga, who had no chance.

What a turnaround.


Your timely reminder that a United win here would leave them just four points off the top of the table…


United sub: Herrera on for Mata, who has been one of United’s best performers this afternoon.


79 mins: Two Chelsea changes in quick succession as they chase an equaliser. Pedro takes Willian’s place, and now Giroud is on for Morata.


Herrera goes down in the Chelsea box but it’s a hard, clean, fair tackle from Kante that dispossess him.


Marcus Rashford goes down, partly in need of medical treatment, and partly to run the clock down. United are ready to make some substitutions as well — we’re just not sure who…


United sub: Andreas Peirera is on in place of goalscorer Anthony Martial.


United sub: And now Mourinho runs down another few precious seconds as Alexis Sanchez comes on in place of Rashford.


Sanchez tries to delay his pass just enough to spring Lukaku in behind the Chelsea defence, but then hits it just a tad too firmly and the chance is gone.


Four minutes to play at the Bridge — can Chelsea find their equaliser? Surely they’ll have one clear chance in the time that’s left.


Into the last two minutes as Chelsea patiently pass the ball back and forth in United territory, probing for a gap.


There will be SIX additional minutes here. Lots of time for a Chelsea equaliser.


Ashley Young — tasked with keeping Eden Hazard as quiet as possible this afternoon — is the Sky Sports man of the match.


BIG Chelsea appeal for a penalty as Pedro slides the ball towards Giroud on the run three yards out, and he takes a tumble. Lindelof was the nearest defender but there was no foul, and United fans breathe a huge sigh of relief.


An impossible angle for Hazard, but he tries his luck nonetheless from the left. It ends up in the stands without troubling De Gea.


90 seconds to play here – but Chelsea have a free about 40 yards out that they’ll surely deliver into the box.


Headed clear by Pereira.


GOAL! Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United (Barkley, 90+6′)


Incredible drama here in the sixth minute of stoppage time — Chelsea preserve their unbeaten record.

It’s the most hopeful ball into the box from Azpilicueta, but Luiz’s header is magnificent, clipping the inside of the post.

Rudiger follows up and must surely score, only to be denied by a brilliant reflex save from De Gea.

But Barkley is on hand at the second time of asking and scores!


Oh what’s going on here? In the celebrations, somebody from the Chelsea camp jogs past Jose Mourinho and appears to pass a remark, which the United boss is not at all happy about. There’s a kerfuffle on the line that still hasn’t really settled.

Still waiting to resume here…

What an incredible finish to what was, all in all, a very entertaining game of football.

United had shown some really impressive spirit to come from a goal down — a team that’s playing for their manager, that’s for sure — and looked on the brink of a most unlikely three points.

But Chelsea have been the masters at scoring inside the final 15 minutes this season, and they did it again with that late, late leveller from Barkley which sends them a point clear of the top ahead of City and Liverpool’s respective fixtures this evening.

Will there be repercussions for either side on the basis of that late skirmish? That remains to be seen.

That’s all from us for now, but stay with us for more reaction and analysis over the course of the afternoon. Thanks for reading.

About the author:

Niall Kelly


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