While Man Utd were still hoping to finish in the top four, they didn’t show it in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea, in which they were outplayed for long spells. The Red Devils are currently five points behind fourth place with only three games remaining, and a miracle will be required to secure a spot in the Champions League at this stage.
Two minutes after Marcos Alonso put the visitors ahead with a wide-open shot in the box, Cristiano Ronaldo equalized for Manchester United. Ronaldo pounced on a lovely scoop feed into the box from Nemanja Matic, and he sent a scorching rocket into the top of the net for his 17th Premier League goal.
The result keeps Chelsea in third place in the Premier League rankings, six points clear of the next closest challenger. The Blues’ attention is now focused on preparing for the FA Cup final against Liverpool on May 14, and an injured substitute for N’Golo Kante will be one to watch ahead of that trophy duel.
Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel will be disappointed that his squad failed to capitalise on a plethora of chances created (Chelsea outshot United 21-6), particularly in the first half. Forward Kai Havertz, who has frequently been Chelsea’s finest offensive player over numerous matches this season, is one of the individuals who may have taken advantage of more opportunities. However, Havertz and countrymen Timo Werner frequently found Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea up to the challenge.
“We had a lot of chances and the two [Werner and Havertz] did not reach their peak performance today. And if they did, we were not a winner,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said postgame.
“Very good performance, but we were not decisive enough, not clinical enough,” he continued. “We lacked a bit of determination in the box to win this game because it would have been absolutely deserved.
“It’s not a fair result. We were very, very good today, but we did not take what we deserved.”
Manchester United are in a phase of change as Dutchman Erik ten Hag prepares to take over from interim German manager Ralf Rangnick. They will conclude the season with three games remaining, hoping to at least earn a place in next season’s Europa League by placing fifth or sixth in the Premier League.
Rangnick, who confirmed his consulting role after the season and the possibility of taking another job — he is reportedly a candidate to take over as head coach of the Austria national team — was blunt in his assessment of his team: “We have issues defending and gaining possession of the ball, as well as winning the ball. In some of those situations, we just aren’t compact, assertive, or muscular enough. This is especially noticeable when competing against great clubs such as Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City.”
Ten Hag and the club will have a lot of work to do to rebuild the connection with supporters, who protested club ownership before the game by entering the stadium well after start and waving a “Glazers Out” banner. The mood at Old Trafford was quiet, and with only one last home game remaining (May 2 vs. Brentford), many fans will be looking forward to the start of a new season.
SUB — Alejandro Garnacho makes his Manchester United debut in the 92nd minute.
Three minutes of stoppage time in the 90th minute. Man United are attempting to bring Garnacho. This appears to be a one-sided game.
82nd minute: SUB — N’Golo Kante of Chelsea looks to have taken a knock, and Thomas Tuchel takes no risks. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has taken his position.
Reece in the 80th minute James scores a goal! He’s been present throughout the game. In this case, a lovely Mason Mount heel flick sets the ball up perfectly for James to run onto and curl a left-footed shot off the far post.
79th minute: SUBS: Juan Mata for Marcus Rashford and Phil Jones for Nemanja Matic for Manchester United.
Ronaldo strikes again in the 78th minute, this time testing Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. But he was always on the wrong side of the ball (flag came up after the play was over).
SUBS —Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku replace Timo Werner and Kai Havertz in the 71st minute. Tuchel has had enough of waiting for those two to sort things out.
It’s difficult to imagine that Ronaldo’s first Premier League goal came against Chelsea in the 69th minute.