CHELSEA 1-1 MANCHESTER UNITED: Chelsea’s Premier League fixture against struggling Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon finished 1-1 after goals from Jadon Sancho and Jorginho
The touchline drama provided the best entertainment in what was ultimately a stalemate at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United’s bench were wired for sound, coach Kieran McKenna and technical director Darren Fletcher had ear pieces and video screens in front of them and it felt like Ralf Rangnick was managing by remote control.
Orders were barked to caretaker boss Michael Carrick who passed them onto the players with incoming interim boss Rangnick unable to take charge until his work permit was received.
A few feet up the touchline, Thomas Tuchel was going crazy, he got booked for a rant at the officials and sunk to his knees in frustration when Antonio Rudiger blasted over when he had the chance to win it in the 97th minute.
Who picked the United team? Of course United will deny it was Rangnick but this was a big departure from recent line-ups and it was a starting XI designed not to lose and the interim manager’s impending arrival is already having an influence.
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Manchester United via Getty Images)
This will feel like a precious result for United, a disappointing one for Chelsea who, from a few weeks ago were six points clear, are still top but now Manchester City are just a point behind and Liverpool third and only two points adrift.
The game was hardly a classic as the first half was woeful but came to life with drama, touchline rows and Jorginho gaining redemption as he struck the equalising penalty for Chelsea after his mistake let in Jadon Sancho for United’s opener.
But suddenly, after the disastrous past few weeks which cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job, United do at least look more solid and harder to beat. The mood has changed from submission to defiance.
For Chelsea, they may regret rotating quite as much as Mason Mount and Kai Havertz were on the bench while Romelu Lukaku is only just coming back to fitness and did come on as a late substitute.
But it was points dropped for the leaders and Tuchel will be unhappy. They still look the team to beat in the title race but it is going to be a three horse race when dropping points at home could cost dear.
Chelsea struggled to open up United – they lined up with a Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic in midfield – who came to defend. Rudiger was as close as anyone in the first half as his 30 yard cracker hit the bar.
But the game changed five minutes after the restart. Chelsea did not take advantage of a free kick into the United box, Bruno Fernandes hoofed the ball high up into the heavens and there was Jorginho as last man back for Chelsea.
Jorginho mis-controlled the ball, it ran away from him and there was Sancho sprinting through and the United winger held his nerve, always looked confident and slipped the ball past Edouard Mendy.
Out of nothing, against the story of the match, United had stolen the lead. Chelsea looked stunned and struggled to haul themselves back – until they were given a present.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka went to clear a corner but whacked Thiago Silva and referee Anthony Taylor pointed straight to the spot. This was a chance for redemption for Jorginho. And he slotted it into the bottom corner.
It was Chelsea’s game to win now. They threw on Lukaku, they went for it and Tuchel lost it as he got booked over an offside decision.
There was one last chance but Rudiger slashed over and Tuchel sank to his knees in frustration while United breathed a huge sigh of relief.