Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

VAR controversy at the Bridge as Manchester United see off Chelsea

Posted on 17 February 2020 by Tusdiq Din

Chelsea 0 Manchester United 2

Manchester United ran out comfortable 2-0 winners against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday night courtesy of a goal in each half from Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire. The Blues shut out means that United earned their first clean sheet from their last twelve top flight away games, but Chelsea will feel hard done by as they had two goals ruled out by VAR.

 

Substitute Kurt Zouma’s volley from a corner was ruled out when Cesar Azpilicueta pushed Brandon Williams as the ball was delivered. However Fred’s initial push on Azpilicueta wasn’t penalised as this was deemed ‘normal.’ Chelsea’s disappointment was further compounded on 77 minutes when substitute Olivier Giroud swooped to head past David de Gea, however VAR intervened again, ruling that the France striker’s boot was offside.

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Martial opened the scoring with his 13th goal of the season

United took the lead pretty much against the run of early play. Aaron Wan-Bissaka had been pre-occupied for much of the first half with the Chelsea front line. Now out on the right in the Blues half, the defender swung over a cross which Martial got his head to despite the attentions of Andreas Christensen to guide the ball wide of the diving Willy Caballero. Frank Lampard looked on in agony. The Chelsea manager has bemoaned the lack of finishing from his front line and Michy Batshuayi was making the point for him. Given a start ahead of Giroud, Batshuayi squandered several chances. Midway in the first half, the Belgian received the ball in a congested area following good work from Pedro and substitute Mason Mount, but placed his shot wide of de Gea’s goal.

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Maguire scored United’s second goal and celebrated in front of the travelling supporters

N’Golo Kante lasted only twelve minutes due to an abdominal injury, but with Mount’s introduction alongside the industrious Mateo Kovacic, the Blues were giving United the run around. Early chances to Reece James and Willian went begging and to add insult to injury, Willian was shown a yellow card for simulation when it appeared that United’s £47m January signing Bruno Fernandes had actually caught the Chelsea man. Maguire might consider himself a tad fortunate not to be shown at least a yellow card, when his outstretched boot appeared to catch Batshuyai in the groin as the two tumbled in front of the Chelsea bench. Blues manager Lampard later said that VAR should have checked that incident and that Maguire should have been shown a red card.

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Zouma and Chelsea agony. VAR ruled out this effort 

Christensen who took an early knock but finished the first half, didn’t emerge after the break with Zouma replacing him. Chelsea thought they had levelled when Zouma volleyed in from a corner, but VAR ruled otherwise. Olivier Giroud’s 69th minute introduction for the mis-firing Batshuayi should have been rewarded but again VAR ruled differently. “ It’s not football anymore,” sung the Chelsea fans – it’s a chant that is being heard at stadiums up and down the country.

Never far from boiling point, the game saw another flashpoint when Antonio Rudiger slide tackled Martial. When matters calmed down, Fred and Zouma were shown yellow cards in the aftermath. Just past the hour mark, dead ball specialist Fernandes saw his free kick strike the foot of Caballero’s post, and with their next move, United doubled their lead. Fernandes’ corner was perfectly met by Maguire with his marker Zouma unable to make any impact on the England man who celebrated his goal in front of the travelling supporters.

Fernandes was fizzing and with another cross, this time Maguire nodded it back for Martial. It looked like a third United goal, until Azpilicueta headed out from under his bar.

With the introduction of Giorud, Chelsea started to tick. His clever flick on put in Kovacic who looked odds on to get his shot away, that was until Eric Bailly came in with a goal saving clearance at the expense of a corner. With their next telling move, Azpilicueta’s cross was precisely met by the low dive of Giroud, but again VAR ruled that the France striker’s boot was offside.

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Giroud also had his effort ruled by VAR on a controversial night in west London

Mount struck the post in stoppage time, and there was just enough time to see United’s substitute Odion Ighalo force another Caballero save. But this was United’s night. They completed a Premier League double over Chelsea who have now only won one of their past six league games.