Manchester United stuns Chelsea amid VAR controvesy, closes gap on top four

Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire scored either side of half-time as Manchester United claimed a 2-0 triumph over Chelsea on Monday.

Manchester United players celebrate after Anthony Martial's goal gave them the lead against Chelsea.   -  Getty Images

Manchester United closed ground on the Champions League places as Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire struck to claim a vital 2-0 win over Chelsea, which was twice denied by VAR.

Despite heading into Monday's meeting at Stamford Bride having taken just four points in 2020, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side moved to within a win of its opponent as it completed a Premier League double over Chelsea for the first time.

Martial continued his excellent form against Chelsea to get United off the mark, with the Blues denied an equaliser through Kurt Zouma by the video review system.

United made its luck count in the 66th minute with captain Maguire – who was perhaps fortunate to be on the pitch after an earlier clash with Michy Batshuayi – heading in Bruno Fernandes' corner and United held firm to secure valuable points after Olivier Giroud also saw a goal disallowed.

Chelsea was inches away from taking a sixth-minute lead when Reece James lashed wide, but Frank Lampard's side was dealt a blow when N'Golo Kante was forced off through injury in the 12th minute.

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Maguire was lucky to go unpunished for kicking out at Batshuayi, who subsequently squandered a brilliant chance after terrific work from Mason Mount.

Yet for all Chelsea's threat, it was United which had the lead when Martial headed in Aaron Wan-Bissaka's excellent cross.

Chelsea thought it had equalised when Kurt Zouma tucked home from a corner, only for VAR to disallow the goal for Cesar Azpilicueta's push on Brandon Williams.

And, after Fernandes had struck the woodwork with a superb free-kick, Chelsea's frustrations were compounded as Maguire headed beyond Willy Caballero.

Giroud's header seemed to have set up a grandstand finish, but VAR again came to United's rescue. Mount then hit the post as the Blues' efforts proved fruitless, with Caballero preventing substitute Odion Ighalo netting a debut goal in stoppage time.

What does it mean? Toothless Chelsea allows the chasing pack to catch up

Chelsea looked safe in fourth place earlier in the campaign but, after a run of just one win in six league games, it is just a point above Tottenham – which it plays next – and three above United in seventh, with Sheffield United wedged in sixth place.

Martial gives Chelsea the blues once more

Martial scored twice in the corresponding fixture last season and now has four goals in his past three league appearances against Chelsea. He is the first United player to score in three consecutive Premier League matches against the Blues.

Chelsea injuries piling up

It has been an injury-hit season for Kante and, after he hobbled off early on, the France international could now be a doubt for crucial fixtures against Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Liverpool in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup respectively.

He was not the only player lost to injury, with Andreas Christensen having to be replaced by Zouma at half-time.

Key Opta Facts

- Manchester United has completed its first league double over Chelsea since the 1987-88 campaign, while this is the first time it has done so without conceding since 1964-65.

- Chelsea has lost seven home games in all competitions this season, its most in a single campaign since 1994-95 (also seven).

- Chelsea has lost all five of its home league games when conceding the first goal this season; only two other sides have failed to recover a single point at home when conceding first in the Premier League this season (Norwich City and West Ham).

- Chelsea became just the second side to have two goals awarded and then overturned by VAR in a Premier League match this season, after Sheffield United against Brighton and Hove Albion in December.

- Harry Maguire scored his first Premier League goal for United; each of his past four strikes in the competition have been away from home, with this his first since January 2019 at Liverpool.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won all five of his away games as United manager against Chelsea and Manchester City in all competitions, more than the Red Devils had won in their previous 19 such games under Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho combined.

What's next?

A potentially huge clash in the race for a Champions League place comes up next for Chelsea, which faces Spurs on Saturday, while United is in Europa League action against Club Brugge two days earlier.

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