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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho masterminded a brilliant and unexpected 2-0 home victory over former club Chelsea on Sunday to breathe new life into the Premier League title race.
Mourinho gambled by resting Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera’s goals gave United a win that leaves Chelsea just four points above Tottenham Hotspur with six games to play.
Victory at Old Trafford also lifted United to within four points of fourth-place Manchester City, on whom they have a game in hand, ahead of the derby at the Etihad Stadium on April 27.
It was a personal triumph for Mourinho, who saw his side thrashed 4-0 at Chelsea in October and was branded “Judas” by fans of his old club during last month’s FA Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge.
A wet, cold Manchester afternoon was the setting for United to end a run of 12 games without victory against Chelsea, stretching back to a 3-2 away win in October 2012.
Chelsea have now lost twice in four games, having gone down 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace earlier this month, which will give in-form Spurs fresh hope that the Blues may yet collapse as the finishing line nears.
The top two meet at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals next weekend in what now looks a significant test of Chelsea’s mettle.
United, meanwhile, will approach Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg at home to Anderlecht, which is poised at 1-1, on the back of their best display under Mourinho.
Chelsea were without goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois due to an ankle problem, while Marcos Alonso succumbed to a virus, bringing Asmir Begovic and Kurt Zouma into their usual first XI.
Mourinho set United up to stop Chelsea, with Herrera and Matteo Darmian tasked with the responsibility of tracking dangermen Eden Hazard and Pedro wherever they went.
But despite Herrera’s chief role as a stifler, he created United’s seventh-minute opener, albeit in contentious circumstances.
He seemed to block Nemanja Matic’s pass with his right hand, but referee Robert Madley played on, enabling Herrera to split the Chelsea defence with a sublime through ball for Rashford.
The 19-year-old raced in behind David Luiz before clipping a shot past Begovic for his ninth goal of the season.
Costa became embroiled in penalty-box tangles with United centre-backs Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo and was booked for a late challenge on Paul Pogba.
With the willing Jesse Lingard in support of Rashford, United looked far more lively going forward.
Ashley Young twice spurned presentable shooting opportunities from the edge of the box, while Rashford saw a cross headed onto the roof of the net by Gary Cahill.
Short of a 25-yard drive by Costa that flashed wide in stoppage time, the half-time whistle sounded without Chelsea having offered anything in attack.
Any hopes the visitors had of masterminding a turnaround vanished within four minutes of kick-off in the second half as Herrera doubled United’s lead.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte sent on Cesc Fabregas for Victor Moses, with Pedro moving to wing-back, but still the league leaders toiled, Pedro twice curling shots over De Gea’s bar.
At the other end Rashford remained a constant menace, teeing up Lingard to bend a shot over and twice going close himself, ruffling the side-netting and testing Begovic at his near post.
When he departed in the 82nd minute, with Ibrahimovic taking his place, he was accorded a richly deserved standing ovation.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s masterclass left Leicester fighting for their Premier League survival as Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 victory over the troubled champions on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho’s side condemned dismal Leicester to a fourth successive league defeat thanks in large part to Mkhitaryan’s dynamic contribution at the King Power Stadium.
The Armenian playmaker opened the scoring with a cool solo strike just before half-time and then teed up Juan Mata for United’s third goal after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had doubled the lead.
United’s first win in four league games extended their unbeaten run to 15 and lifted them to within two points of fourth-placed Arsenal in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
“I think we played like we normally play. We played well and tried to win,” Mourinho said.
“We are still in the same position but we are closer to the others so we keep fighting.”
Just nine months after their fairytale title triumph, Leicester are firmly embroiled in a battle to avoid relegation after winning only one of their last nine league games.
Claudio Ranieri’s team are a shadow of the relentless unit that ground opponents into submission last term and have yet to score a league goal in 2017.
They sit one point above the relegation zone and face a crucial clash at fellow strugglers Swansea next weekend.
“Last season everything was right and the players got confidence, now they are anxious. We have to stay together and keep fighting,” Ranieri said.
Given both sides’ recent struggles, it was little surprise that anxiety was the prevailing emotion in an error-strewn opening most notable for Jamie Vardy’s tetchy response to a touchline collision with Eric Bailly.
Riyad Mahrez, such a poised and inspired figure last season, summed up the malaise gripping Leicester when the Algeria winger responded to an early sight of goal with a woeful strike that flew well wide.
Marcus Rashford hadn’t scored in the league since netting against Leicester in September and the United striker, unmarked 10 yards from goal, squandered a good opportunity to end that barren run when he blazed over from Mkhitaryan’s pinpoint cross.
Mata could consider himself fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after the United midfielder lunged into a crude challenge on Vardy.
Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba combined to work the ball into Rashford and the youngster’s quickly-taken low strike carried enough power to force a fine save by Schmeichel.
It was a warning Leicester failed to heed and United took the lead in the 42nd minute when Mkhitaryan punished a mistake from Robert Huth.
When Chris Smalling won a header in midfield, there should have been no danger but Huth made a rash and unsuccessful attempt to win the ball in the centre circle, giving Mkhitaryan space to nudge it past the defender and race clear of the Leicester defence before firing beyond Schmeichel.
Just 88 seconds later, Leicester shot themselves in the foot again when Antonio Valencia was allowed to run unchecked down the right before crossing towards Ibrahimovic.
Despite three Leicester defenders surrounding Ibrahimovic, the trio were all flat-footed as the United forward pounced to slot home his 20th goal of the season.
Ranieri sent on Demarai Gray and Andy King at half-time, but Leicester’s gloom deepened when Mata put the result beyond doubt in the 49th minute.
Mkhitaryan was tormenting Leicester with his clever passing and when the United playmaker deftly clipped the ball to Mata, the Spaniard was played onside by Morgan and guided his shot past Schmeichel from close-range.
Rashford and Mata couldn’t take chances to rub salt into Leicester’s wounds, but the damage had already been done.
Ranieri will hope it doesn’t prove fatal.
In-form Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes the club’s luck has finally turned ahead of their clash with West Bromwich Albion.
United manager Jose Mourinho recently lamented his side were playing much better than results and their position in the Premier League suggested.
The Red Devils head to the West Midlands on the back of two consecutive victories following a frustrating eight-match league sequence that featured six draws, one win and one defeat.
United have beaten Tottenham (1-0) and Crystal Palace (2-1) in the past week and are now in sixth place, although they are 13 points behind leaders Chelsea.
“We are working hard, we have confidence and we believe in what we are doing,” said Ibrahimovic, who scored the winner against Palace on Wednesday to take his tally to 14 goals in 24 appearances.
“At the moment, we work very hard for it and we will keep focused. We have always had the belief and we keep getting more confidence from recent games.
“We all put in the hard work. Sometimes you hit the top and don’t get the winner, like in the last couple of weeks.
“We have been disappointed in some games, so letâs keep going like this and get the three points (against West Brom) that we need to get closer to the top.
“Now we have closed the gap even more and we have to keep going like this,” added the 35-year-old Swedish veteran.
Ibrahimovic also reckons his understanding with France midfielder Paul Pogba has started to blossom on the pitch for United ahead of the trip to The Hawthorns.
“Paul and I talk a lot and we try to help each other,” said Ibrahimovic.
“I think he likes to play with me and I like to play with him too. But it is not only about us two, it is the whole team.”
Mourinho is again set to be without injured trio Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ankle), Chris Smalling(toe) and Luke Shaw (knock).
Right-back Antonio Valencia is available again having served a suspension but fellow defender Eric Bailly is set to miss after he was substituted against Crystal Palace with a knee problem.
West Brom will take on United as the in-form team outside the Premier Leagueâs top six.
They have won four and drawn one of their last six games and climbed back to seventh in the table after a 3-1 win at home to Swansea on Wednesday, with Salomon Rondon scoring his first hat-trick in England.
And midfielder Chris Brunt, who provided two of the crosses for Rondonâs all-headed treble, claims the Baggies must seek to secure European football.
“You always have to push,” said Brunt when asked about European prospects.
“At the end of the day that’s the next step for us.
“We have been a mid-table Premier League team for five or six seasons now.
“Five or six teams flirt with relegation but progression for us would be to get away from that and push up the table.
“The likes of Southampton have done that over the last couple of seasons.
“There’s no reason why we couldn’t do that but it’s difficult to sustain that over the season for a club the size of ours.”
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his first Manchester United goal to set up a 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk in Ukraine on Thursday and take Jose Mourinho’s side into the last 32 of the Europa League.
United required only a point to secure progress from Group A but Mkhitaryan’s 48th-minute strike and a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal separated the sides and took the Premier League club through in second place behind Fenerbahce, who won 1-0 at Feyenoord thanks to a Moussa Sow effort.
The game went ahead despite concerns about the state of the icy, rock-hard pitch at the Chornomorets Stadium in Odessa, almost 1,000 kilometres away from Luhansk in the conflict-torn east of the country.
After a goalless first half, United broke the deadlock three minutes into the second half as the Armenian Mkhitaryan burst forward from midfield through the middle of the Zorya defence before finishing past goalkeeper Igor Levchenko.
They wrapped up the victory two minutes from the end as a fine one-touch passing move ended with Paul Pogba sending Ibrahimovic away, the Swede running through and finishing coolly.
“I was waiting a long time for this goal. My next goal has to be at Old Trafford because I want to score at home,” Mkhitaryan, who previously played in Ukraine for Shakhtar Donetsk, told BT Sport.
“The first half was a little bit difficult because we couldn’t find the last pass but in the second half we created some space for the wingers and the strikers. The important thing was to win today and go through.”
Mourinho praised the playmaker, who endured a difficult start to his United career but is now starting to show his worth.
“He worked hard physically and tactically — the talent was there, we knew that when we bought him. Now he’s playing good — in the Premier League, Europa League and EFL Cup — and now the goal means a little more happiness for him, so I’m very pleased,” Mourinho said.
United will join Tottenham Hotspur, who drop out of the Champions League, in the last 32, but there was bitter disappointment for fellow Premier League club Southampton.
Claude Puel’s men knew a goalless draw or a win at home to Hapoel Beer-Sheva would see them advance from Group K but instead drew 1-1 with the Israelis and were eliminated.
The visitors went in front in the 79th minute, Yuval Shabtai pouncing on a poor pass by Oriol Romeu and setting up Maor Buzaglo to fire home.
Virgil van Dijk equalised with a deflected shot in stoppage time but they could not get a winner and Hapoel go through instead.
A brilliant late chip by Manuel Trigueros gave Villarreal a nervy 2-1 win over Steaua Bucharest that took the Spanish club into the last 32 from Group L behind the Turkish side Osmanlispor.
Fellow Spaniards Celta Vigo won 2-0 at Panathinaikos and qualify from Group G, while Fiorentina are through as winners of Group J after a 2-1 win over Qarabag in Azerbaijan secured by a 76th-minute goal from 19-year-old Federico Chiesa, son of ex-Italy striker Enrico, who was then sent off shortly after.
PAOK of Greece are also into next week’s draw for the first knockout round thanks to a 2-0 win against Slovan Liberec, while Gent joined Shakhtar Donetsk in advancing from Group H.
Kalifa Coulibaly’s stoppage-time strike clinched a 1-0 win over Konyaspor in Turkey and took the Belgians through at the expense of Braga, who lost 4-2 at home to Shakhtar.
AZ Alkmaar beat Zenit 3-2 in the Netherlands and join the Russians in progressing from Group D.
Dundalk had gone into their final game in the same group away to Maccabi Tel Aviv still in with a chance of going through but a 2-1 reverse in Israel ended the Irish champions’ hopes.
Romanian champions Astra drew 0-0 at home to Roma and go through with the Italians from Group E, while Sassuolo and Genk will try again in Group F on Friday after fog in Italy forced their encounter to be postponed.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was sent off as his side lost more ground in the Premier League title race by drawing 1-1 with West Ham United on Sunday.
After Diafra Sakho’s second-minute opener was cancelled out by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho was sent to the stands for kicking a water bottle in protest at Paul Pogba’s booking for diving.
It was United’s fourth successive home draw in the league — a first since 1980 — and left them 11 points below leaders Chelsea in sixth place.
United assistant manager Rui Faria, filling in for Mourinho, told BBC Sport: “We all believe the results will appear.
“The referee explained it to Jose and there is nothing more to say. I think it was frustration from Jose after the yellow card for Pogba.
“It should be a foul for us, but the referee understood it in another way.”
Elsewhere, Alexis Sanchez scored twice as Arsenal kept pace within the leading pack by winning 3-1 at home to Bournemouth.
West Ham needed just 90 seconds to go ahead as Dimitri Payet’s free-kick from the right was headed in by Sakho.
In the 21st minute, Pogba’s deep cross was nodded in by Ibrahimovic, who has now scored seven league goals this season.
Moments later referee Jonathan Moss booked Pogba for diving after the France midfielder took evasive action as Mark Noble moved in to tackle him.
Mourinho reacted by furiously kicking a plastic bottle and was duly sent to the stands for the second time this season.
Wayne Rooney, whose next goal will equal Bobby Charlton’s 249-goal club scoring record, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan came on for United in the second half.
Jesse Lingard saw a goal chalked off for offside after Mkhitaryan had hit the post, while United were indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea for a crucial late save to deny Ashley Fletcher.
United will hope their luck changes when West Ham return to Old Trafford in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
With England midfielder Jack Wilshere watching from the stands due to the terms of his loan from Arsenal to Bournemouth, the home side took a 12th-minute lead courtesy of a horror moment from Simon Cook.
In seeking to play the ball back to goalkeeper Adam Federici from the right, he undercooked his pass horribly, giving Sanchez the time to pick his spot and put Arsenal ahead.
Bournemouth equalised in the 23rd minute when Callum Wilson netted from the penalty spot after Nacho Monreal was harshly adjudged to have fouled him.
But Arsenal equalised in the 53rd minute when Theo Walcott headed in Monreal’s masterful cross and Sanchez made the game safe in stoppage time by tapping in substitute Olivier Giroud’s cross.
“I felt we started well, but when they equalised we were nervous and that’s where having three consecutive draws played a little bit on our minds,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose team trail Chelsea by three points.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman made an unhappy return to former club Southampton as his current side fell 1-0 to his previous employers.
Charlie Austin scored the game’s only goal after just 41 seconds, heading in from close range after 19-year-old debutant Josh Sims helped on Cedric’s cross.
Stoke City climbed to 11th in the table with a 1-0 win at Watford.
A 29th-minute own goal from Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes settled the game, with Charlie Adam’s header hitting the post and bouncing into the net off the unfortunate Brazilian.
Marcus Rashford extended Manchester United’s 100 percent start to the Premier League season with a dramatic strike two minutes into stoppage time to seal a 1-0 win at Hull City on Saturday.
Teenage forward Rashford, left out of the starting line-up for each of United’s opening three matches, made his case for greater involvement as he came on as a substitute to convert Wayne Rooney’s low cross from close range.
Up to that point, it looked like being an evening of frustration for Jose Mourinho’s team, but they leave the KCOM Stadium in second place in the table behind leaders Chelsea only on goals scored.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic went close twice in the first half for United, while Rooney was denied by a brilliant first-half block from Hull captain Curtis Davies.
Hull, themselves looking to maintain a perfect league record, spent most of the match on the defensive but did have threatening moments of their own.
Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick flew just wide in the opening half, while Tom Huddlestone’s shot was deflected just wide off Eric Bailly inside the final 15 minutes.
Indeed, David Meyler lifted a shot over the bar from a promising position just seconds before Rashford struck, leaving the home side wondering what might have been.
Aside from the agonising manner of the defeat, a major concern for their caretaker manager Mike Phelan, though, will be an injury to Scotland international Snodgrass, who had to come off early in the second half.
Phelan, who is hoping to sign goalkeeper David Marshall from Cardiff City, is desperately short of senior players, despite the return of defender Harry Maguire from injury.
Hull’s stand-in manager is continuing to have to field players out of position, with midfielder Jake Livermore once again filling in as a centre-back, and winger Sam Clucas figuring in a holding midfield role.
The club’s lack of signings has been a sore point with supporters, who have called for owners Assem and Ehab Allam to leave the club.
Despite chaos off the pitch, Hull’s players have shown remarkable strength in adversity on it, withstanding United’s pressure until the final seconds in torrential rain in east Yorkshire.
The visitors almost took the lead in the eighth minute, when Ibrahimovic glanced a header onto the roof of the net from Anthony Martial’s clever cross.
They found it difficult to create clear chances after that and Hull did cause problems at the other end.
Marouane Fellaini conceded a free-kick right on the edge of the penalty area which Snodgrass, a regular threat from set-pieces, curled just wide.
United should have gone in front eight minutes before the interval when Juan Mata raced past Andrew Robertson and crossed for Rooney six yards out, but the England captain’s effort was blocked by Davies, and the visitors’ appeals for handball went unheeded.
Ibrahimovic then backheeled into the side-netting just before half-time, and United’s search for a goal continued with little success for much of the second period.
Paul Pogba and substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan both had long-range efforts that missed the target, and the match looked set for a draw until Rashford’s late intervention.
Borussia Dortmund came from a goal down to crush 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 on Sunday, tightening their hold on second place and staying on the heels of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.
Alex Meier put the visitors ahead with an early goal, before Henrikh Mkhitaryan levelled with a 24th-minute tap-in.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mats Hummels and Adrian Ramos all netted in a scintillating second half for Dortmund, who missed a dozen more clear scoring chances as they rode roughshod over a frustrated Frankfurt.
Bundesliga top scorer Aubameyang took his goal tally to 18 despite shooting wide with a 44th-minute penalty after Slobodan Medojevic was sent off for a second booking.
Dortmund, who bounced back from their midweek Europa League defeat at PAOK Salonika, are on 38 points with a nine-point advantage over third-placed Hertha Berlin. Eintracht dropped to 15th on 14 points after their fourth straight loss, adding pressure on embattled coach Armin Veh.
Dortmund maintained their unbeaten run at home in the league, having won seven of eight matches at their Signal Iduna Park stadium this season.
Bayern are top with 43 points after beating Ingolstadt 2-0 on Saturday, with one more matchday left until the winter break.
Augsburg’s Brazilian forward Caiuby fired home a stoppage-time volley to give them a 2-1 victory over Schalke 04 that lifted them out of the relegation zone and piled more misery on their free-falling opponents.
Hong Jeong-ho gave Augsburg the lead when he backheeled a Dominic Kohr shot into the net in the 34th minute, before Schalke levelled in the 70th with a well-worked goal from Sead Kolasinac, his first in the Bundesliga.
Caiuby, however, scored in stoppage time with a left-footed volley following a poor clearance from Benedikt Hoewedes to secure a second consecutive Bundesliga victory for Augsburg, who were buoyed by reaching the last 32 of the Europa League in midweek.
Augsburg moved up to 13th in the table on 16 points while Schalke, who have won just one in their last seven, dropped to eighth on 24.
(Reuters) – Borussia Dortmund eased past lacklustre Bayern Munich 2-0 with goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to lift the German Super Cup on Wednesday and draw first blood in their rivalry with the Bavarians this season.
Both clubs left most of their World Cup winners and big names at home or on the bench with the season yet to start and Dortmund were more aggressive from the start despite most eyes on Bayern’s new striker Robert Lewandowski.
“We played very good at the back,” Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp told reporters.
“The Bavarians did not have a lot of chances and we defended superbly. The engine is gradually starting to work well but we are still not at 100 percent.”
With Dortmund fans whistling and jeering the club’s former forward on his first return to the city since joining their rivals, Armenian Mkhitaryan struck in the 23rd minute, rifling home after a superb run.
Bayern, without Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben as well as defender Rafinha and midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara, were on the back foot throughout with keeper Manuel Neuer, newly crowned German Player of the Year, repeatedly coming to the rescue.
He was without a chance, however, when winger Aubameyang rose high above defender Jerome Boateng to drill in a header in the 62nd minute and celebrate by putting on a Spiderman mask he slipped out of his sock to the delight of the 80,600 crowd.
Aubameyang and Italy striker Ciro Immobile played in a two-pronged attack as Dortmund did not look to be missing Lewandowski on Wednesday, despite being without central defender and new captain Mats Hummels and winger Marco Reus.
Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos also managed to shut out Lewandowski, who had only one clear scoring chance.
“I only focused on the game but Dortmund were better than us,” Lewandowski, last season’s Bundesliga top scorer, told reporters.
“It is always a bit difficult when many players come later into training but we will improve a lot in the next game.”
Bayern’s new-look three-man backline also played below expectations as the Ruhr valley club players continuously found space.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola brought on captain Philipp Lahm and Mario Goetze in the second half but Germany’s World Cup winners could do little to stem the flow of the Dortmund attacks.
There was more bad news for Bayern with midfielder Javi Martinez being taken off after half an hour with a suspected knee ligament injury.
“Many of us only recently returned to training and we also have some players injured,” said Lahm. “It was not easy. We did not have that many chances but we are still in the middle of our pre-season preparations.”
The hosts had chances to add to their tally en route to retaining the trophy, with last season’s double winners Bayern, who also lost the Super Cup 12 months ago, looking more like a work in progress with the league start just over a week away.