Battle at Stamford Bridge ends with late drama

A last gasp equaliser from Ross Barkley keeps United seven points a drift from the top, continuing United’s awful run at Chelsea.

An Antonio Rudiger header was cancelled out by a second-half brace from Anthony Martial before the Blues scored at the death.

Going into the game United had only won one of their last 16 games at The Bridge and were looking to rectify that on Mourinho’s return to his old stomping ground.

It was United started the first half well with Martial and Marcus Rashford posing questions down the wings, albeit not testing Kepa in the Blues goal.

But it was Chelsea who broke the deadlock. A Willian corner saw Rudiger take advantage of some lacklustre defending from Paul Pogba to steer in a completely free header from six yards.

From then on it was Chelsea who dominated the ball with Hazard trying to weave his magic. In true Mourinho big-game style United looked to frustrate, hacking down the Belgian wherever possible, with Ashley Young and Nemanja Matic subsequently booked.

The Red Devils, looking to counter Chelsea, were disjointed and toothless with their midfield and forward line unable to penetrate a resolute defence, not having a single shot on target in the process.

The second half started with South London club on the front foot, with Hazard the orchestrator. Morata received the ball into his feet and turned his man only for an all too familiar tame effort from the Spaniard to be saved by David De Gea.

Hazard then stung the palms of the Chelsea stopper from a tight angle, before cleverly flicking a ball into a rampaging David Luiz who shot wide.

Chelsea were then made to pay for wasting their chances. United’s first real sustained piece of pressure in the 55thminute saw a deflected Juan Mata shot saved by Kepa.

The ball was then kept alive with Chelsea failing to clear their lines, before the ball fell to Young whose cross-turned-shot was deflected into Martial who superbly controlled and hammered the ball passed Kepa from eight yards out.

The game then became more stretched and frantic with it becoming end to end. David Luiz squandered a great opportunity for the hosts. Again being left completely free by the United he glanced a header wide from 10-yards out.

Kante then stung the palms of De Gea from 20-yards, before a killer blow.

United worked the ball down the left with Mata cleverly getting past Alonso, and slipping the ball into Rashford. From there Martial was able to take a touch, using the defender to bend an exquisite effort into the bottom corner.

Any thoughts than Mourinho had lost the dressing room had all but diminished with a sprightly second half display.

Going into the final 15 minutes the more attacked minded Mata was substituted for Ander Herrera for United, whilst Chelsea took off Morata for Oliver Giroud.

And the changes seemed to have worked in United’s favour as Chelsea looked desperately for an equaliser; but in the dying moments of the game Ross Barkley salvaged their unbeaten run.

After a great stop from De Gea from a Rudiger header after Luiz attempted hit the post, Barkley, a late substitute, was quickest to react to turn the ball home.

The goal was marred by some ugly scenes on the touchline as a member of Chelsea’s backroom celebrated right in front of the United bench. The break while referee Mike Dean sorted out the scuffle saw a dispute in the middle of the pitch, before the final whistle was blown.

The draw will feel more like victory for Chelsea, while for United it is a kick in the teeth after a spirited comeback.

The display will certainly cool the pressure on Mourinho but with United still seven points adrift from Chelsea, a title challenge is going to be a tall order.

Words: Lee Pearson Subbing: Matthew Smith

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