Manchester United gave their Champions League ambitions a huge boost with a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, though it would be a game that would have plenty of controversial talking points.
After a first half that was riddled with mistakes, Manchester United produced the first real moment of quality in the closing stages of the opening period, Aaron Wan-Bissaka putting in a delicious cross for Anthony Martial, who scored a well taken header just before the break.
United doubled their lead in the second half through captain Harry Maguire who thundered home a Bruno Fernandes corner, though Maguire was perhaps fortunate to be on the pitch following an apparent kick-out at Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, VAR deciding to stick with Antony Taylor’s on-field decision, while the £80 million man unsurprisingly insisted ‘it wasn’t a kick out’.
“I know I caught him and I felt he was going to fall on me and my natural reaction was to straighten my leg to stop him,” Maguire told Sky Sports.
“It wasn’t a kick out and there was no intent. I think it’s the right decision. I knew I’d caught him but that I had no intent to hurt him. It was just a natural reaction. I apologised to him and it was nice that the referee saw sense.”
United would also gain the benefit of VAR on two further occasions, Kurt Zouma’s leveller to make it 1-1 being ruled out for a push by Cesar Azpilicueta on Brandon Williams in the build-up, while Olivier Giroud also saw a late header ruled out for offside.
Speaking afterwards, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side had the ‘margins’ on their side, but praised his teams defensive work, United having now kept four clean sheets on the bounce.
“We didn’t play particularly well with the ball, we were sloppy and slow at times but defensively it was very good,” Solskjaer told BBC Sport. “Eric Bailly was outstanding on his first game back.
“We had the margins on our side, in football it does happen. They were unfortunate with the two VAR goals – the right decisions but they were marginal.
“Was Harry Maguire lucky? I don’t think so, he was fouled first and Batshuayi was going to fall on top of him so he put his leg out and hit him where it hurts.
“I didn’t see a foul by Fred for the disallowed goal. Luckily there was no VAR when I played. Giroud was a foot, or half a foot offside, at least it wasn’t an armpit.
“We are three points behind Chelsea now, that was a massive win tonight. We could not have realistically clawed back nine points.”