Mourinho’s shadow looms over Chelsea-United draw
Jose Mourinho’s former club shared the points with what could well be his next one when Chelsea and Manchester United drew 1-1
Jose Mourinho’s former club shared the points with what could well be his next one when Chelsea and Manchester United drew 1-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, a result that did not help either team's immediate ambitions.
Although the Portuguese was nowhere to be seen at Stamford Bridge, his presence still loomed large over the match.
He made headlines earlier on Sunday by being widely quoted as saying he was ready to return to work in England after losing his job at Stamford Bridge seven weeks ago, with Old Trafford strongly tipped as his next destination.
Current United manager Louis van Gaal retorted by saying he did not believe his club’s board had opened talks with Mourinho about taking his job, but Sunday’s draw at Chelsea would not have increased his chances of keeping it.
While United played the better football, especially in the first half, Diego Costa’s equalizer in the first minute of added time to cancel out Jesse Lingard's superb strike on the hour, left United fifth on 41 points from 25 matches.
They are 12 adrift of leaders Leicester City and six points behind the fourth Champions League spot occupied by local rivals Manchester City.
The result also did little for Chelsea’s immediate aim of moving up the table, and left them stranded in 13th place on 30 points, seven points clear of the relegation zone but 17 points away from the Champions League places.
Dutchman Van Gaal, who must have thought his team had done enough to end the home side’s unbeaten run under his compatriot, interim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, could not hide his frustration.
“We played very well until maybe the last quarter and it was very frustrating they scored so late. We played like we played today but we are not making the gap smaller (on the Champions League places),” said Van Gaal.
Chelsea skipper John Terry, who said last week he was leaving the club at the end of the season, told Sky Sports the draw was not what they wanted either.
“To be honest we need to start winning games because we are in mid-table and teams are dropping points around us so we need to start winning because of late we are drawing too many.”
For most of the past decade this fixture has been one of the highlights of the season, and often a potential a title-decider, but with both teams off the pace this season, there was a subdued atmosphere at the ground in the first half.
The game finally came to life when Lingard put United ahead with a superb goal, turning and shooting after a cross from the left had been touched on by Wayne Rooney.
Chelsea had a strong penalty appeal turned down at the end of the first half when Daley Blind appeared to stop Terry’s goal-bound shot by putting both hands in front of his face.
But they suffered a bigger blow in the second period when they lost central defender Kurt Zouma, who was carried off on a stretcher shortly before United took the lead after landing awkwardly on his right leg and seemingly damaging his knee.
Their efforts were finally rewarded in stoppage time when Costa rounded his Spain team mate David De Gea to score as Chelsea drew at home for the fourth successive league match.
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