The match started with the visitors trying to press high and disrupt Chelsea’s rhythm. Part of their tactic involved the systematic rotational fouling of Eden Hazard, who had clearly been targeted by United. The fouling became so regular and intentional that referee Michael Oliver warned them that the next one committed on the Belgian would earn a booking. Seconds later, Ander Herrera brought Hazard down again and saw red for receiving his second yellow card.
Chelsea dominated possession with their numerical advantage, and the breakthrough was imminent. The goal arrived on 51 minutes from an unlikely source, as N’Golo Kante fired a low shot beyond David De Gea, and the game was effectively over. The hosts failed to add to their lead after missing a flurry of chances, but they never looked likely to concede to a guileless United team.
The team showed excellent patience and good use of the ball to pull Man United’s 10 men out of position. The back line also comfortably withstood a brief late aerial barrage.
The result should have been put beyond doubt well before the final whistle, with Diego Costa just one of many that should have doubled the Blues’ lead.
8 — Antonio Conte kept faith with his usual system, which largely negated any threat from the opposition while always looking dangerous going forward. Got in a touchline spat with Jose Mourinho to the delight of the home crowd.
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 — Had little to do but still pulled off a marvellous stop when one-on-one with Marcus Rashford.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 — Made some excellent interceptions, though his use of the ball was found wanting at times. Shot wildly on two occasions when passing might have been a better option.
DF David Luiz, 7 — A mostly assured display was almost undone when his error allowed Rashford a run on goal. Was unruffled by Marouane Fellaini’s aerial threat.
DF Gary Cahill 7 — Had a tough opening 30 minutes, as United tried to use Rashford’s pace to unsettle him. Had a close-range shot brilliantly saved by De Gea in the first half.
MF Marcos Alonso, 7 — Another decent all-round display. Delivered the ball well from wide areas and was untroubled defensively.
MF Victor Moses, 7 — Was kept largely under control as an attacking force by Ashley Young but had a more effective night as a defender. Made some excellent interventions and carried the ball away from potentially dangerous situations.
MF Nemanja Matic, 7 — Returned to add ballast to midfield and did well in that regard. Saw plenty of the ball in the second half without ever being especially incisive.
MF N’Golo Kante, 8 — Another excellent performance full of energy and sharp tackling. Capped the evening with the only goal of the game, scoring against United for the second time this season.
FW Eden Hazard, 9 — Despite the cynical tactics deployed, the visitors still struggled to stop the little magician from running them ragged. Only the fingertips of De Gea prevented him from scoring a sensational solo goal.
FW Willian, 6 — Didn’t make the most of a rare start, with his lack of sharpness contributing to a stilted performance. Grew into the game and curled a second-half shot just over the bar.
FW Diego Costa, 6 — The Spaniard continued his odd form of late, with another 90 minutes with plenty of touches but little end product. Should have scored when he sent a header wide of the bar when completely unmarked.
MF Cesc Fabregas, NR — Added composure to the team to avoid a frantic finish to the game.
DF Kurt Zouma, NR — Cut out a dangerous late cross to vindicate his introduction.
FW Michy Batshuayi, NR — Used his physique intelligently to help relieve late pressure.
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