Chelsea had Eden Hazard to thank after a tidy finish defeated Manchester United in a crucial match at the top of the Premier League. The Belgian’s goal put the Blues 10 points clear, leaving Louis Van Gaal with work to do to confirm his team’s top four position before the season’s end.
The Red Devils worked some good openings early on in the game, but captain Wayne Rooney couldn’t make their advantage pay and missed a glorious opportunity when the ball was pulled back to him.
Jose Mourinho’s side are a clinical outfit, and when their opponents fail to take their chances, they are typically punished.
That proved to be the case here – the Stamford Bridge outfit only needed a single clear opening to gain the single goal advantage they needed. Oscar backheeled to Hazard, sprinting between Manchester United defenders, and suddenly he was clear through on goal with only David De Gea to beat. Hazard simply nutmegged the Spaniard with a cute shot before wheeling away in celebration.
In the second half, Chelsea maintained their control of the game, and could so easily have doubled their lead had it not been for the woodwork. Didier Drogba’s shot was deflected, looping over De Gea, but Hazard could only hit the post from a tight angle.
Not to be outdone, Manchester United pressed forward to re-ignite their fledgling title push, but it was just one of those days in front of goal – summed up by Falcao’s effort. The Colombian used his low centre of gravity to turn Kurt Zouma intelligently, but his left foot drive could only find the outside of the upright.
That was the last great chance of the match, and despite more possession, shots and corners, Man Utd went home with none of the points.