Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rejuvenated Manchester United booked their place in the FA Cup quarterfinals with a relatively comfortable 2-0 win at Chelsea on Monday night.
Chelsea vs United, The two iconic Premier League sides played out yet another mouth-watering contest. But on Monday, there was only one winner.
Former manager, Jose Mourinho, had left the team in tatters, but Solskjaer’s exuberance still prevailed. He instigated an 11-game unbeaten run, finally giving the supporters something to cheer for. Solskjaer’s Red Devils tasted defeat for the first time in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain. Thomas Tuchel’s men outclassed the Premier League outfit to pick up a 2-0 win, handing them a harsh reality check.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) February 18, 2019
So, in many ways, the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Chelsea was about bouncing back, proving that the PSG game was a one-off. Without the injured Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, the Norwegian was forced to switch things up. Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata were introduced and to good effect. Chelsea, on the other hand, were desperate to take some pressure of Maurizio Sarri. The Italian hasn’t been as successful as he would have liked and needed a positive performance against an iconic rival.
Both teams came out all guns blazing in the first half, but Manchester just looked a tad sharper in their decision-making. They looked hungrier and more eager to take their chances. The visitors upped the ante in the closing quarter of the first half and got themselves a two-goal cushion through Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba’s decisive headers.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) February 18, 2019
Chelsea started the second half on the front foot, but couldn’t be decisive when it mattered. Eden Hazard mustered half a chance, which was never going to beat an in-form Sergio Romero.
Manchester United Shine
Against Chelsea, away at Stamford Bridge, with two first-choice players injured, Manchester United were supposed to have a difficult time. The Red Devils, however, had something else planned. Despite playing out an even first-half, they got themselves a comfortable two-goal cushion, thanks to their composure and incisiveness.
The second half was more about positivity and discipline. A two-goal cushion gave them plenty of confidence, yet they didn’t push forward mindlessly in search of the third goal. They held their ground, dug deep, and came away with the result they needed.
Pressure on Sarri
Maurizio Sarri came to England with a big reputation. His football made Napoli look like a world-class team, so, fans expected something similar at Stamford Bridge, as well. So far, the 2018/19 campaign hasn’t bode well for the Italian. His side have been oscillating between extremes, and Monday was one of his worse nights in England.
The Blues couldn’t match Manchester United’s tempo on the night and gave the ball away cheaply on a couple of occasions. Their defensive organization was also poor as they failed to mark the high-flying visitors numerous times.
Paul Pogba Makes It Look Easy
During the final few months of Jose Mourinho’s ill-fated Manchester United career, Paul Pogba slid down the pecking order, often due to non-footballing reasons. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment has turned his career around it seems. He has been absolutely superb since his appointment, and last night, too, was no exception.
Running the show from the middle of the park, Pogba played an inch-perfect cross to locate Herrera’s head for United’s opener. He then doubled his contribution — just before the half-time whistle — by heading home the Red Devils’ second.