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2019-20 English Premier League
  • Anthony Martial (45')
  • Harry Maguire (66')

Manchester United remain in reach of Champions League with victory at Chelsea

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FC pundits shocked Harry Maguire didn't see red (1:50)

Steve Nicol and Craig Burley are incredulous after Harry Maguire's apparent kick out at Michy Batshuayi. (1:50)

Manchester United stayed in touching distance of the Champions League places with a 2-0 Premier League win at Chelsea on Monday night.

The victory moved United into seventh place with 38 points, three back of the fourth-placed Blues after 26 matches.

The victory also represents a rare league sweep for United against the London club, having last won both meetings between the sides in the 1987-88 season.

In a high-tempo and scrappy game United made the most of their chances while Chelsea, whose form at home has been suspect all season, squandered a string of opportunities.

Anthony Martial put the visitors in front just before the break after a well-placed cross on the right from Aaron Wan-Bissaka found him between defenders to head past Wilfredo Caballero from close range.

Second-half substitute Kurt Zouma thought he'd equalised with a header of his own 11 minutes after half-time. But a VAR review determined that Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, aided by a shove from Fred, pushed a United player after the corner kick had been taken, nullifying the subsequent goal.

United took advantage of their good fortune in the 66th minute through Harry Maguire, who had been lucky not to be sent off for a kick out on Michy Batshuayi in the first half -- the former Leicester defender stepping in front of his marker and heading powerfully past Caballero to seal the three points for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad.

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Olivier Giroud, on a substitute 10 minutes earlier, had the ball in the net near the 80th minute but VAR again ruled it out, this time for offside as the striker's foot was inches ahead of the last defender.

Chelsea suffered more bad news in the game when midfielder N'Golo Kante limped off early in the first half with what appeared to be a groin injury. He was replaced by Mason Mount.

"We didn't play particularly well with the ball, we were sloppy and slow at times but defensively it was very good," Solskjaer told BBC after the match. "Eric Bailly was outstanding on his first game back.

"We had the margins on our side, in football it does happen. They were unfortunate with the two VAR goals -- the right decisions but they were marginal.

"Was Harry Maguire lucky? I don't think so, he was fouled first and Batshuayi was going to fall on top of him so he put his leg out and hit him where it hurts.

"I didn't see a foul by Fred for the disallowed goal. Luckily there was no VAR when I played. Giroud was a foot, or half a foot offside, at least it wasn't an armpit.

"We are three points behind Chelsea now, that was a massive win tonight. We could not have realistically clawed back nine points."

Pressed on the VAR decisions, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said he believes the wrong calls were made.

"I've seen it again [the possible Maguire red card] and VAR is there for that and they didn't get it right. Azpilicueta gets a shove in the back -- it's not clear, it's not obvious, Azpi has been pushed in the back."

Fans rushed to the Stamford Bridge exits immediately after Giroud's goal was overturned, not waiting for the final whistle.

Lampard cited VAR's role in the match as the reason for their disappointment.

"It's a bit soul destroying but it's the culmination of a few incidents. VAR is there for that and a toe offside is a toe offside, even if we don't like it," he said.

English Premier League Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Liverpool 29 +45 82
2 Manchester City 28 +37 57
3 Leicester City 29 +30 53
4 Chelsea 29 +12 48
5 Manchester United 29 +14 45
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 29 +7 43
7 Sheffield United 28 +5 43
8 Tottenham Hotspur 29 +7 41
9 Arsenal 28 +4 40
10 Burnley 29 -6 39
11 Crystal Palace 29 -6 39
12 Everton 29 -9 37
13 Newcastle United 29 -16 35
14 Southampton 29 -17 34
15 Brighton & Hove Albion 29 -8 29
16 West Ham United 29 -15 27
17 Watford 29 -17 27
18 AFC Bournemouth 29 -18 27
19 Aston Villa 28 -22 25
20 Norwich City 29 -27 21