Manchester United rely on 7/10 Rashford but 4/10 Fred struggles vs. Chelsea
Manchester United edged into the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup with a solid yet unspectacular 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men made the most of their set pieces as Marcus Rashford scored twice, first from the penalty spot and again with a sensational free kick.
The 21-year-old broke the deadlock after Daniel James was adjudged to have been upended by Marcos Alonso and, despite having missed two penalties already this season, Rashford sent Willy Caballero the wrong way to notch his third goal against Chelsea in 2019-20. His fourth was a worthy matchwinner, and followed Michy Batshuayi's well-hit equaliser.
Solskjaer will be particularly pleased this side, with an average age of 24, managed to concede just once. Perhaps aided by Chelsea's decision to rest the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, the Red Devils ensured the home side didn't manage a single shot in target in the first half. United came under pressure in the second period but managed to keep Chelsea at bay and hold on for the win.
United were solid in the first half but their back three looked likely to crumble when put under pressure after the break. Both goals came from set pieces and United rarely troubled the Chelsea goal from open play.
Manager rating (out of 10)
6 -- The travelling fans sang about how Solskjaer made them happy when skies were grey, and the under-pressure boss will come away from the King's Road with a bit of credit in the bank. His side looked solid in the first half, and he reacted well in the second by replacing Victor Lindelof. But he may have to assess the number of players in the treatment room tomorrow.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sergio Romero, 6 -- The Argentine's first involvement was to claim a cross on 55 minutes, his second was to pick the ball out of the net following Batshuayi's equaliser. He made a crucial save with the scores level, which set the platform for Rashford's winner.
WB Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 6 -- The consistent defender looked lively going forward in the first half and was constantly on hand to clear his lines throughout, often coming inside to cover in the middle when Chelsea broke down United's left.
DF Victor Lindelof, 4 -- After a quiet first half in which the Swede looked untroubled, Lindelof struggled when Chelsea applied pressure after the break. A mix up with Harry Maguire enabled Batshuayi to seize possession for the equaliser. Was taken off in the second half.
DF Harry Maguire, 5 -- A quiet night for the big man, with Batshuayi only bursting into life in the second half. He had a hand in Chelsea's equaliser, a mix up with Lindelof leading to the goal, but an otherwise had uneventful evening. Was glad to hear the final whistle after limping through the closing stages.
DF Marcus Rojo, 6 -- The left side looked to be United's Achilles heel, with Brandon Williams jittery in front of Rojo, but the Argentine often used his physicality in an attempt to thwart Callum Hudson-Odoi. He made a key block early in the second half -- Chelsea argued that he used his arm -- to protect Romero's goal.
WB Brandon Williams, 7 -- The youngster looked nervous in possession in the early exchanges but he made two key interventions in the second half; firstly when he stretched out a leg to intercept a potential slide rule pass with Chelsea chasing the game, and again with a full blooded tackle on the stretch on 70 minutes. Grew into the game.
MF Scott McTominay, 6 -- McTominay had a great chance to open the scoring on 13 mins when he fired wide following a well worked corner from James. He showed good strength on the ball and good anticipation to smother Chelsea attacks. Didn't dominate, but did enough.
MF Fred, 4 -- The Brazilian was largely anonymous, though he was constantly closing down Chelsea's midfield. He failed to stamp his authority on the game but did draw the foul that led to the winner before he was replaced in the second half.
MF Daniel James, 5 -- The Welshman's clever corner (think a poor man's 'Trent Alexander-Arnold vs. Barca') gifted McTominay with a great chance to open the scoring. He was a threat on the break and it was his meandering run that led to the penalty when he was bundled over by Alonso. Tireless running and chasing down defenders.
FW Jesse Lingard, 5 -- The attacking midfielder showed a good turn of pace and enjoyed a dangerous run into the Chelsea box in the first 10 minutes. He looked confident in possession but didn't manage to affect the game. Had one shot which was comfortably saved 10 minutes before the break.
FW Marcus Rashford, 7 -- He looked dangerous on the break early on and stepped up to convert low to his left and send Caballero the wrong way to open the scoring from the spot. His second goal was a superb free kick from distance to win the game before he limped off. Clinical.
FW Anthony Martial, 4 -- Came on with 24 minutes remaining but did little to influence the game. Had few opportunities to show his pace or run at the Chelsea back line.
DF Andreas Pereira, 5 -- The midfielder replaced Lingard with 24 minutes left on the clock and, while he didn't stand out, he did well to help reduce the home side to speculative efforts as they chased the game.
MF Ashley Young, N/A -- The club captain came on with 11 minutes remaining.