Mata’s late goal gives Chelsea vital victory

Manchester United 0 Chelsea 1

Juan Mata’s 87th-minute goal gave Chelsea victory at Old Trafford, leaving them on the verge of Champions League qualification.

With the game appearing to be petering out into a dismal draw, Mata collected Oscar’s pass and fired into the corner of the net from the edge of the box with the help of a deflection off Phil Jones.

Manchester United ended the match with 10 men after Rafael was red-carded for lashing out at David Luiz in the final minute.

The result lifted Chelsea above Arsenal into third place and means a win at home to rivals Tottenham on Wednesday would virtually guarantee a top-four finish.

It was a deserved three points for the Blues, who were the better team and felt they should have been awarded a second-half penalty when Luiz was pulled back by Ryan Giggs near the edge of the area.

However, Chelsea were given the benefit of the doubt by referee Howard Webb in the build-up to Mata’s goal, as Ramires appeared to foul Wayne Rooney.

With United already crowned champions and Chelsea still battling for that all-important top-four spot, the visitors’ need for points was greater.

And it showed as United were lethargic in an opening half an hour in which their opponents passed the ball neatly and almost went ahead when Oscar’s low shot was tipped onto the post by keeper Anders Lindegaard.

Oscar returned to the Chelsea starting line-up with Mata and Ashley Cole, while Demba Ba came in for Fernando Torres, who dropped to the bench along with John Terry.

Ba sent an effort wide and skipper Frank Lampard brought a save from Lingegaard as the Blues continued to dominate.

United finished the half strongly, though, and Robin van Persie poked wide from a cross by Giggs, who then fired over.

The second half was poor, with Lampard blazing over after being teed up by Mata and later crossing for the Spaniard, who was unable to hit the target.

But Mata made amends and his priceless winner puts Spurs under immense pressure ahead of what is sure to be a feisty derby at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Oscar, Mata (Ake 90), Moses (Torres 76), Ba.
Subs not used: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cahill, Terry, Benayoun.



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