English Premiership

Morata strikes as Chelsea derail United title bid

2017-11-05 20:37
Alvaro Morata (AP)

London - Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata condemned Jose Mourinho to another damaging defeat against his former club as the champions clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

As it happened: Chelsea v Manchester United

Morata rewarded an enterprising display from Antonio Conte's side when the Spain striker headed home early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.

After losing twice at Chelsea in his first season as United boss, Mourinho, who won three English titles in two spells with the Blues, is growing accustomed to leaving west London empty-handed.

This was an especially painful setback for Mourinho as a second defeat in their last three Premier League games leaves second-placed United lagging eight points behind leaders Manchester City.

United haven't won at Chelsea since October 2012, a barren run that now stretches to eight matches.

While Mourinho licks his wounds, Chelsea manager Conte can take heart from a vibrant performance that keeps his fourth-placed team nine points behind City.

Amid talk Conte was in danger of losing the support of his players over his intense training regime, Chelsea's third successive league win was well timed for the Italian in the week when demanding Blues owner Roman Abramovich made one of his ominous visits to the training ground.

Having reportedly torn into his players during a lengthy inquest into Tuesday's 3-0 defeat at Roma, Conte wielded the axe as David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger were dropped.

Just as significantly, France midfielder N'Golo Kante returned to provide his steadying influence after missing six games with a hamstring injury.

In need of a fast start to set the tone, Chelsea thought they'd taken the lead when Marcos Alonso's cross was turned into his own net by United defender Phil Jones, only for referee Anthony Taylor to disallow the goal for a push by Morata.

United should have been ahead themselves moments later when Ashley Young's cross exposed early fault lines in Conte's revamped defence, but the unmarked Marcus Rashford headed over from close range.

Tiemoue Bakayoko was equally profligate at the other end, the Chelsea midfielder firing wide from Davide Zappacosta's cross.

Without a goal in his last six appearances, United striker Romelu Lukaku was searching for the blistering form that followed his pre-season move from Everton.

But the Belgian was largely anonymous and even when he turned on the edge of the Chelsea area for a low shot, Thibaut Courtois was able to push it away.

Eden Hazard led the Chelsea response with a stinging 25-yard strike, forcing David De Gea into an agile stop.

Mourinho has been criticised for adopting a cautious gameplan in big matches recently and, while he seemed more willing to let United go forward this time, he must have been furious with the way Chelsea were slicing open his defence.

Andreas Christensen should have punished more slack United marking when he headed over from a Fabregas corner, before Conte finished the half raging at the officials after Antonio Valencia barged over Hazard.

Hazard came in for more rough treatment after the interval, with Jones and Ander Herrara both booked for fouling the Chelsea playmaker.

Hazard could have exacted immediate revenge when he found himself with just De Gea to beat from close range, but the Belgian's hurried shot was easy for the United keeper.

Hazard didn't need to rue that miss as Chelsea's pressure was rewarded in the 55th minute.

United had only themselves to blame as Cesar Azpilicueta was allowed to advance unchecked down the right before whipping his cross towards Morata.

Left untouched by the flat-footed Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly, Morata had time and space to bury his header past De Gea for his first goal in seven games.

Mourinho sent on Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini, yet there was little threat from United until Fellaini squandered their last chance, shooting straight at Courtois in the closing minutes.

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Friday, 24 November 2017
West Ham United v Leicester City, London Stadium 22:00
Saturday, 25 November 2017
Swansea City v AFC Bournemouth, Liberty Stadium 17:00
Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion, Old Trafford 17:00
Crystal Palace v Stoke City, Selhurst Park 17:00
Newcastle United v Watford, St. James' Park 17:00
Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion, Wembley Stadium 17:00
Liverpool v Chelsea, Anfield 19:30
Sunday, 26 November 2017
Southampton v Everton, St. Mary's Stadium 15:30
Burnley v Arsenal, Turf Moor 16:00
Huddersfield Town v Manchester City, The John Smith's Stadium 18:00
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2017/18 season?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.