Chelsea 0, Manchester United 2
Paul Pogba made one and then scored one as Manchester United dumped FA Cup holders Chelsea out at the 5th Round stage to put more pressure on Maurizio Sarri.Embed from Getty Images
Chelsea had been humbled 6-0 by Manchester City at the Etihad last weekend and the Reds took full advantage of the home side’s fragile state of mind to take the lead just when the Blues looked like they might be getting on top in this contest.
United didn’t even need to be on top form either as Chelsea failed to muster a shot on target after the 11th minute and the Reds cruised to victory after going 2-0 up in the first half with headers by Ander Herrera and Pogba as the Blues crumbled to their first defeat to United at Stamford Bridge since 2012.
Nemanja Matic escaped a second yellow card in the second half as Chelsea pushed for a goal but the home fans voiced their displeasure at “Sarriball” as the holders exited the FA Cup with a whimper rather than a roar.
It was the perfect warm up to a titanic Sunday for Reds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – his United welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford on Sunday and potentially hold the fate of the Premier League title in their hands.
Juan Mata was selected ahead of Alexis Sanchez who started on the bench as Solskjaer made four changes from the side that lost to Paris St Germain last week.
David De Gea and Eric Bailly stepped down to the bench while the injured Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial were unavailable.
Sergio Romero, Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, and Romelu Lukaku came into the side seeking to get themselves into the FA Cup Quarter Final.
Paul Pogba runs the game as Chelsea exit the FA Cup
Lukaku forced an early corner and fired over in the opening minutes while Smalling’s tame header was an easy collect for Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea had a double chance when David Luiz’ free 11th minute kick was palmed away by Romero who wasn’t overly worried by Pedro’s follow-up strike from an acute angle.
It was then Arrizabalaga’s turn to save from Ander Herrera’s long range strike dipping.
Gonzalo Higuain started to threaten and sent an early cross by Azpilicueta wide with a powerful header.
Marcus Rashford then tried his luck with a free kick which bounced into Arrizabalaga’s arms after 19 minutes.
Chelsea seemed to be edging the contest midway through the first half but the Reds roared back with the opening goal.
Juan Mata released Paul Pogba down the left. The Frenchman cut inside and lifted the ball into the box and picked out Ander Herrera perfectly and the unmarked Spaniard headed United into the lead past Arrizabalaga after 31 minutes with Marcos Alonso caught napping.
Pedro tried his luck with a looping effort after 35 minutes which had Romero grasping hopefully for a touch of the ball as it looped just wide.
Luke Shaw came across to put off Higuain and Eden Hazard as Chelsea pushed for an equaliser and almost went clean through.
And Hazard was clipped by Rashford as the more energetic Reds prevented the home side from gaining traction.
The Reds then went 2-0 up just before half time when Pogba scored with a flying header from 9 yards out after Chelsea had given up the ball in midfield and allowed the Reds to storm forward with Rashford crossing from the right wing touchline to find Pogba, who had gifted Rashford the ball, galloping in on goal to convert.
Nemanja Matic escaped a second booking early in the second half for a clumsy challenge on N’Golo Kante as Chelsea claimed a string of corners after the break.
Kante tried to thread the ball through to Pedro but Shaw put in a clearing tackle but took the brunt of an attempt by Romero to dive onto the ball after 56 minutes.
Antonio Rudiger’s penalty claim was turned down by the referee and by VAR after he was shown to be backing into Smalling before going down.
Sanchez was introduced after 73 minutes for Lukaku while Juan Mata was withdrawn to applause from all sides at Stamford Bridge – being replaced by Andreas Pereira rather than Fred – just 3 minutes later.
The frustration of home fans was evident throughout the last quarter of the game – with the name of Jose Mourinho invoked as Chelsea fans demanded the return of their former manager and denigrated ‘Sarriball’ vociferously.
They couldn’t force the issue, though, and United marched into the quarter finals.
GOALS – Chelsea 0, Manchester United 2
Chelsea 0, Man Utd 1: 31. Juan Mata released Paul Pogba whose left wing cross found Ander Herrera in acres of space and his header went in past Kepa Arrizabalaga
Chelsea 0, Man Utd 2: 45. Paul Pogba’s flying header from 9 yards doubled United’s lead after Marcus Rashford’s cross from the touchline landed perfectly for the galloping Frenchman to convert.
MATCH STATS – Chelsea 0, Manchester United 2
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta (Zappacosta 82), Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic (Barkley 71), Pedro (Willian 58), Higuain, Hazard
Chelsea Subs not used: Caballero, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Christensen
Bookings: Rudiger 60 (followed through on tackle with Juan Mata), Kante 65 (foul on Rashford)
Man Utd: Romero, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Herrera, Matic, Mata (Pereira 76), Pogba, Rashford (McTominay 90+4), Lukaku (Sanchez 73)
Man Utd subs not used: De Gea, Bailly, Fred, Dalot
Bookings: Matic 15 (bringing down Hazard), Young 21 (sliding into Pedro – will be suspended for the quarter final)
Goals: Herrera 31, Pogba 45