EPL Matchday 26 of 38; Chelsea survive penalty scare in a goalless draw
EPL Matchday 26 of 38: Chelsea survive penalty scare in a goalless draw
Chelsea 0, Manchester United 0 – Sunday, February 28, 2021
Ole Solksjaer's Red Devils drifted further away from leaders Manchester City as they played out a drab goalless draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Sunday evening. The hosts who are into their ninth unbeaten outing under new boss Thomas Tuchel, missed a chance to move into the Top four while United slipped further away from City at the top, the gap now widening to as much as 12 points.
There was drama 14 minutes into the game when Callum Hudson-Odoi appeared to have handled the ball in the Chelsea box. After a VAR check advised referee Stuart Attwell to watch a replay of the infringement on the pitchside monitor, the latter decided against awarding a penalty much to the chagrin of Solksjaer.
Hudson-Odoi, relieved at having survived the penalty, looked to respond at the other end but fired wide after linking up well with Cesar Azpilicueta.
The English wing-back was again involved again in the 36th minute, when he whipped a ball through the United six-yard box but a diving Olivier Giroud was unable to connect, instead crashing into a post.
United resorted to some smart counter-attacking that has become their trademark as Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood combined brilliantly and it took some smart defending from Ben Chilwell to keep the duo at bay. Apart from that, there was little of note in an uneventful first half without any clear chances coming either way.
The second half began in more buoyant fashion with United custodian David de Gea making a sharp save to keep out a Hakim Ziyech effort and Edouard Mendy at the other end dealing with a Scott McTominay attempt.
Hudson-Odoi who was forced off at interval with an injury was replaced by Reece James who was soon up to speed as he saw his effort brilliantly blocked by Luke Shaw on 49 minutes. Fred's strong effort from the edge of the box whistled past the post while Mateo Kovacic kept De Gea alert with a curling effort from range as Chelsea grew into the game.
James then forced Victor Lindelof to clear brilliantly off the line under pressure from substitute Timo Werner.
There was a last gasp effort from the Red Devils to give the game a result when McTominay threatened from a counter-attacking move but N'Golo Kante raced back to prevent him and danger to the Blues goal was averted. Mendy punched away a Fred shot in the final moments as the match petered into one more 0-0 draw.
Tuchel who has made the Blues a resilient and tough side to beat rued at lack of cutting edge his team showed at Stamford Bridge while rarely troubling the United defense and can hardly complain at not having emerged victorious from Sunday’s evening game.
Chelsea starting XI in a 3-4-2-1 formation: Mendy (goal), Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Hudson-Odoi, Chilwell, Mount, Kante, Kovacic, Ziyech, Giroud,
Subs: James, Pulisic, Werner
Manchester Utd starting XI in a 4-2-3-1 formation: De Gea (goal), Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Fernandes, James, Greenwood, Rashford