Harry Maguire 9/10 as Man United avoid VAR mess to complete big win at Chelsea
Manchester United are now within three points of fourth place after a crucial 2-0 win over rivals Chelsea on Monday night. In a first half of little quality, United's Anthony Martial provided a rare moment of magic, heading home superbly on the stroke of half-time to hand the away side a 1-0 lead.
Chelsea came out strongly in the second half and even had the ball in the net courtesy of Kurt Zouma, only for VAR to rule it out due to a push. That decision would prove to be a crucial one, as just 10 minutes later Harry Maguire rose highest to head home from a corner and ultimately seal a vitally important win the race for the top four.
As a defensive unit, United now look like a side well-equipped to deal with most dangerous attacking units. While Michy Batshuayi did have a couple of opportunities, the away side were excellent at turning over possession while also dominating the aerial duels. Additionally, Eric Bailly's triumphant return to the team will also please Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to no end.
In the absence of Marcus Rashford, United often looked blunted going forward. With the travelling side reduced to sporadic counters, Daniel James and Anthony Martial were isolated for large spells. Thankfully for United, when Martial did get a sniff at goal, he was clinical. That said, on another occasion they could have easily left Stamford Bridge pointless and goalless.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 7 -- With few chances throughout the first half, it had appeared the United boss was too defensive in his tactical game plan. However, Martial's goal proved to be crucial, as it partly justified Solskjaer's decision to sit in deep and wait for Chelsea to make a mistake. Despite some nervy early moments, Bailly's inclusion also proved to be an excellent selection call.
GK David De Gea, 6 -- The Spanish stopper had little of note to deal with in the first period as both sides struggled to create clear chances. The second half tested his handing ability, which didn't faze the 29-year-old too much.
DF Eric Bailly, 8 -- The speedy defender recovered well from some early blunders to play a crucial role in United's victory. He made a handful of vital tackles and interceptions to stake his claim for a place in the side on a regular basis.
DF Harry Maguire, 9 -- Could have been dismissed in the first half for a brainless kick-out at Batshuayi after spilling off the pitch during a 50:50 challenge for the ball. He survived a VAR review and went on to star for United in the second half, rounding off a dominant display with a towering header to score his side's second goal of the game.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 -- Despite making his name as an attacking wing-back, Shaw appears to be thriving as part of a central back three. He can tackle well and also boasts the ability to play out of defence, something he again demonstrated tonight.
MF Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 8 -- After half-an-hour, the former Palace man looked alarmingly off the pace. However, much like Bailly, he improved as the game wore on and ended the first half with a crucial assist, whipping in a sensational cross for Martial to guide home.
MF Fred, 7 -- A much improved display from the eternally frustrating midfielder. He was superb centrally in turning over possession, with the only real negative being his end product when in dangerous attacking areas.
MF Nemanja Matic, 6 -- A mixed display from the former Chelsea man, who was often wasteful in possession. With that being said, his work rate certainly never wavered.
MF Brandon Williams, 6 -- A slightly underwhelming game for the Manchester-born left-back, who looked ill-at-ease to stop Willian in his tracks. Going forward it was a similarly tough evening, with most of Williams' crosses missing their intended targets.
FW Bruno Fernandes, 7 -- United's big-money January signing was arguably their most creative player in the first half, combining well with the likes of Fred despite the fractured nature of the game. He went on to clatter the post in the second half with an audacious free kick attempt.
FW Daniel James, 6 -- Cut a frustrated figure throughout, having to rely on scraps with little in the way of support. He was unsurprisingly replaced in the second half having failed to impact the game.
FW Anthony Martial, 8 -- Scored the vital opening goal against the run of play, beating Andres Christensen to the ball and picking out the far corner of the net with a divine guided header. Despite being isolated up front, the Frenchman didn't stop trying to manufacture goalscoring chances.
MF Andreas Pereira, NR -- Came on with 10 minutes remaining to replace the ineffective James.
FW Odion Ighalo, NR -- Given his debut in second-half stoppage time in place of Martial.
MF Diogo Dalot, NR -- Also saw out the final two minutes in place of Fernandes.