Mour­inho’s United routed on re­turn to Chelsea

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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 yes­ter­day. 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. 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.

An­to­nio Conte’s side have now 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, in stark con­trast, 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 fourth round. 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 dugouts turned Mour­inho’s ‘Spe­cial One’ nick­name back on him, chant­ing: “You’re not spe­cial any­more!” 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 for­ma­tion. He was forced into an­other change seven min­utes into the sec­ond half when Eric Bailly sus­tained a knock, with Mar­cos Rojo com­ing on at left-back and Da­ley Blind mov­ing to cen­tre-back.

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.

LONDON: Manch­ester United’s Swedish striker Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic (L) heads the ball dur­ing the English Premier League foot­ball match be­tween Chelsea and Manch­ester United at Stam­ford Bridge in London yes­ter­day.

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