Fan­tas­tic game at Stam­ford Bridge.

Eng­land. Pre­mier League. 31st round

04 Apr, 22:15. Stam­ford Bridge (Lon­don)



Man­ches­ter Unit­ed

These teams once played in the Moscow Cham­pi­ons League final, but now Man­ches­ter Unit­ed and Chelsea are lame giants. These are the only top clubs that are out­side the top 5 and are unlike­ly to play in the Cham­pi­ons League next sea­son. Now both of them have no time for Euro­pean Cups — here they would have to cope with inter­nal prob­lems and find at least some kind of sta­bil­i­ty.

It seemed that one of two sce­nar­ios await­ed this meet­ing: either the oppo­nents would stage a slug­gish butt with a min­i­mum num­ber of goals, or it would turn out to be some­thing like a com­e­dy of errors, but pro­duc­tive.

Chelsea beat Man­ches­ter Unit­ed in a crazy match. On-line trans­la­tion

The rivals chose the sec­ond option, which killed a lot of nerve cells for their fans, but gave neu­tral observers a full-fledged spec­ta­cle with an epic end­ing.

At the same time, Man­ches­ter Unit­ed and Chelsea once again empha­sized that they are not able to play even a full 45 min­utes. Take, for exam­ple, the open­ing half hour. The Lon­don­ers seemed to have got­ten off to a great start: Gal­lagher scored in the 4th minute, and soon Cucurel­la earned a penal­ty, which was con­vert­ed by Palmer. By the mid­dle of the first half, the hosts had a com­fort­able advan­tage, and even the fans believed in suc­cess. “Mason, Mason, what’s the score?” — one of the stands at Stam­ford Bridge chant­ed in those sec­onds, address­ing Chelsea grad­u­ate Mount, who was sit­ting in the Man­ches­ter Unit­ed reserve.

But every­thing sud­den­ly broke down. The turn­ing point was a mon­strous pass from the hosts’ mid­field­er Caice­do — the nim­ble Gar­na­cho inter­cept­ed the ball and reduced the gap in the score. Soon Unit­ed scored a sec­ond: this time the Chelsea defense sim­ply for­got about Bruno Fer­nan­des in their own goal area. And every­thing had to start all over again!

It’s incred­i­ble that the game can turn 180 degrees dur­ing the first half. Yes, after a break or a series of sub­sti­tu­tions this hap­pens, but in the start­ing 45 it’s rare. And this speaks about the state of the cur­rent cri­sis giants.

Just before the break Chelsea tried to regain the lead but Gal­lagher hit the post and it had to be put on hold.

But in the sec­ond half, lit­tle changed. Yes, Unit­ed dropped deep­er and gave the ball to the hosts, but tac­ti­cal changes could not mask the mis­takes that their oppo­nents con­tin­ued to make. Gigan­tic gaps between the lines and poor choic­es by play­ers in posi­tions reg­u­lar­ly led to dan­ger­ous moments. And, per­haps, Chelsea looked more vul­ner­a­ble than the guests, because they often flirt­ed with posi­tion­al attacks and allowed Unit­ed to car­ry out sharp coun­ter­at­tacks.

One of them end­ed in a goal: Gar­na­cho scored a dou­ble, but what was much more impor­tant in that episode was who made the assist and how. This is the mer­ci­less­ly crit­i­cized Antho­ny, who before this game had not made a sin­gle effec­tive action in the entire cham­pi­onship, and in the first half earned a penal­ty in his own goal. This time, the Brazil­ian did exact­ly what they paid 95 mil­lion euros for him a year and a half ago — he ran away from every­one and cut an amaz­ing pass to Gar­na­cho with the out­side of his foot.

Dur­ing this match, Man­ches­ter Unit­ed man­aged to lose two cen­tral defend­ers at once due to injuries — Varane and Evans. How­ev­er, Chelsea were fine defen­sive­ly, but the Lon­don­ers also made mis­takes sev­er­al match­es ahead.

As the sec­ond half pro­gressed, it seemed that the one whose play­ers would make few­er mis­takes would win this game. This is how it was until the very depths of added time: Man­ches­ter Unit­ed was not very calm, but still fought off the con­vul­sive attacks of Chelsea, and there was lit­tle fore­shad­ow­ing of anoth­er plot twist.

As it turned out, the deci­sive fac­tor in this meet­ing was not only mis­takes, but also Palmer’s fig­ure. The 21-year-old Chelsea mid­field­er is hav­ing an incred­i­ble sea­son and even in the Novem­ber shootout with Man­ches­ter City (4:4) he brought his team a draw in stop­page time. This should have hap­pened now: Dalot earned a penal­ty into his own goal, and the Eng­land mid­field­er con­vert­ed it. It was the 10th added minute.

But the final whis­tle did not blow. Chelsea were allowed to car­ry out anoth­er fever­ish attack, which was crowned with a clear shot from the same Palmer! The Eng­lish­man was helped by a rebound, but no one at Stam­ford Bridge cared — the blues snatched a vic­to­ry with a score of 4:3, although they were still infe­ri­or in the 90th + 9th minute!

An unprece­dent­ed out­come that could eas­i­ly kill one team moral­ly, and give the oth­er one con­fi­dence and strength for the rest of the sea­son. In any case, this game will go down in his­to­ry, and years from now it will def­i­nite­ly be shown on TV instead of an enter­tain­ing movie.