FA Cup holders Manchester United bowed out vs. Chelsea at the quarterfinal stage after a start that promised so much. Marcus Rashford spearheaded considerable intensity in attack but, once Ander Herrera was dismissed for a second yellow card, Jose Mourinho’s side were mostly concerned with holding the fort and their best performances came from defenders.
Marcos Rojo was immense at centre-back, even pressing into the final third as late as the 85th minute, while Antonio Valencia was equally terrific on the right flank. Rashford showed intelligence and poise playing as a lone front man.
Herrera has a feisty game in general, but he took his recklessness over the edge in front of slightly card-happy referee Michael Oliver. Herrera’s two yellows came to define the game.
7 Mourinho’s initial tactics were superb, as his team pressed high and forced Chelsea to play out from deep. The red card must have been frustrating, but United’s manager made a striking substitution when taking off Henrikh Mkhitaryan to introduce Marouane Fellaini and then compounded that by not bringing on Juan Mata, who offered the creativity United needed.
GK David De Gea, 8 — Though he was beaten from distance by N’Golo Kante’s match-winning goal, De Gea was superb, making two world-class saves in the first half and being quick to clear his lines whenever pressed by Chelsea forwards.
DF Antonio Valencia, 9 — Superb. Showed great intensity throughout and some of his one-touch passing and movement was as good as it has been all season.
DF Chris Smalling, 7 — Had as unpleasant an assignment as they come, given the brief of marking Eden Hazard, but aside from one moment when he was utterly bamboozled he kept the contest competitive.
DF Marcos Rojo, 9 — United’s outstanding player. Threw himself in the path of the ball when he couldn’t reach it, dragged it away from Diego Costa when he could, and pressed so high up the pitch that he almost played in Rashford at one point. The blot on his performance, though, was an unpunished stamp on Costa which could yet lead to a suspension.
DF Matteo Darmian, 7 — A dependable performance. He did not get forward with particular ambition but was always on hand as a passing option.
MF Phil Jones, 7 — Another who had some difficulty with Hazard — he was booked for a foul on the Belgian playmaker — but Jones looked good in a defensive midfield role before moving back to shore up the defence.
MF Ander Herrera, 4 — Started the game very well and was a key reason for United’s early tempo, but he must rein in his fouling. His two yellows may seem harsh, but it is a mark of his importance that United were so affected by his absence.
MF Paul Pogba, 5 — After Herrera’s dismissal he had a great deal of responsibility but was pegged back by Chelsea’s extra man and dispossessed too often. He could have showed much greater intensity on the defensive end.
MF Ashley Young, 7 — Defensively sound — he dispossessed Victor Moses several times — but lacked the creativity in attack that United needed. Disappointing set pieces.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 7 — May feel unlucky to have been withdrawn after Herrera’s red, with all the signs that he was warming up for a productive evening. Fired a snapshot just wide and looked sharp in the final third.
FW Marcus Rashford, 7 — Looked utterly comfortable leading the line, tirelessly running the channels and closing down defenders at every opportunity. Eluded Gary Cahill beautifully in the second half and went through on goal; only a fine Thibaut Courtois save denied him an equaliser.
MF Marouane Fellaini, 7 — Played his part in a solid defensive effort, with good pressure on the ball throughout.
MF Jesse Lingard, NR — Could not get on the ball in decisive areas, or build play with the urgency United needed.
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