London - Chelsea
supporters taunted Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho with chants
of "You're not special anymore!" as his Stamford Bridge return yielded a
humiliating 4-0 defeat on Sunday.
With seven major titles across two spells, Mourinho is Chelsea's most
successful ever manager, but his return to his old stomping ground
ended in one of the most chastening results of his career.
Pedro Rodriguez opened the scoring after just 30 seconds and Chelsea
did not look back, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante completing
an emphatic Premier League victory.
"We scored the early goal, but we continued to play good football and create many chances," Conte told the BBC.
"Today we didn't concede, which was important. It was a type of win that increases the confidence."
It was a fitting tribute to former Chelsea vice-chairman Matthew
Harding, whose death in a helicopter crash 20 years ago was marked prior
to kick-off with banners and a giant flag.
Conte's side have won three consecutive league games without
conceding a goal and climbed to fourth place, just a point below leaders
Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Mourinho has already tasted defeat three times in the league with
United, who trail City by six points ahead of Wednesday's Manchester
derby in the League Cup.
"We made incredible defensive mistakes, individual mistakes, and you pay for that," Mourinho told Sky Sports.
He refused to divulge what he had said during a terse exchange with
Conte after the final whistle, saying: "My words with Antonio Conte were
for him, not for you."
Mourinho was said to have been irritated after Conte encouraged the
home fans to make more noise following Chelsea's fourth goal.
Mourinho also expressed fears that Eric Bailly had sustained a
"really bad" knee ligament injury after the Ivorian centre-back was
forced off early in the second half.
The team sheet told a tale
of two captains: United's, Wayne Rooney, was absent after reportedly
injuring his thigh, while Chelsea's, John Terry, remained on the bench
following an ankle injury.
Mourinho was greeted warmly by Terry and former assistant Steve
Holland prior to the game, sharing a warm embrace with the former, but
Chelsea's hospitality vanished within 30 seconds of kick-off.
Chris Smalling inexplicably allowed Marcos Alonso's pass from
Chelsea's left to bounce past him and Pedro nipped in to round United
goalkeeper David de Gea and roll the ball home.
Mourinho, sacked for the second time by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last December, looked faintly shellshocked.
He saw his side squander a chance to level when Zlatan Ibrahimovic
headed over after Antonio Valencia had stood up a cross from the right.
More slack defending allowed Chelsea to double their lead in the 21st
minute, Cahill slamming home after Hazard's corner had struck Ander
Herrera and bounced down inside the six-yard box.
A pocket of Chelsea fans beside the dug-outs turned Mourinho's
'Special One' nickname back on him, chanting: "You're not special
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had been relatively untroubled up
to that point, although he produced a smart double save to repel
Herrera's left-foot effort and Jesse Lingard's follow-up.
It was an ideal first half for Chelsea, but David Luiz was fortunate
to escape with only a yellow card after planting his studs in Marouane
Fellaini's knee five minutes before half-time.
Mourinho changed tack at half-time, sending on Juan Mata for Fellaini
and moving Marcus Rashford up front alongside Ibrahimovic in a 4-4-2
Lingard sought to sound the revolt for United, wriggling away from a
pair of Chelsea players and unleashing a crisp drive that Courtois had
to push away.
But in the 62nd minute it was game over. Nemanja Matic's pass down
the inside-left channel found Hazard, who checked inside Smalling and
steered a shot into the bottom-right corner.
Kante completed the rout, darting between Smalling and the
sleep-walking Paul Pogba to tuck away his first Chelsea goal since his
close-season switch from Leicester City.