Ex-Manchester United Star Fellaini Contracts Coronavirus

File: Marouane Fellaini of Shandong Luneng celebrates after scored during the Chinese Super League (CSL) football match between Shandong Luneng and Beijing Renhe in Jinan in China’s eastern Shandong province on March 1, 2019.  STR / AFP

 

Marouane Fellaini has tested positive for the coronavirus, his club Shandong Luneng said Sunday, the former Manchester United player becoming the first known case in the Chinese Super League (CSL).

The 32-year-old Belgian international midfielder has a normal temperature and is feeling fine, Shandong said, but “is under observation and having treatment at a designated medical facility.”

“The club will do its best… to help in the treatment and recovery of the player.”

Fellaini is just the latest high-profile name in football to catch the disease, joining the likes of Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

But he is the first confirmed case in the CSL, dealing a blow to the league’s hopes of starting the season as early as next month.

The campaign was supposed to begin last month but has been indefinitely postponed by the outbreak.

Fellaini, also formerly of Everton, joined Shandong Luneng from English giants United in February last year for a reported 7.2 million euros.

On Saturday, the Chinese Football Association said that the country’s best-known player, forward Wu Lei, had also tested positive for the coronavirus.

Wu, who plays for Spanish strugglers Espanyol, is in self-isolation at home in Barcelona and has only mild symptoms.

The coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December and has since spread across the world and become a pandemic, killing 13,000 people and infecting more than 300,000.

Pogba Makes Fund-Raising Pledge To Tackle Coronavirus Pandemic

Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba gives a press conference after a gala football match between All Star France and Guinea at the Vallee du Cher Stadium in Tours, central France, on December 29, 2019, as part of the “48h for Guinea” charity event. GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

 

Manchester United star Paul Pogba has promised to financially support the fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Pogba has organised a fundraising page on Facebook and the France midfielder will double the amount raised if the target of £27,000 is reached.

World Cup winner Pogba, who had his 27th birthday on Sunday, wrote: “It’s my birthday and I’m always grateful that me, my family and friends are healthy. Nonetheless, not everybody is in good health right now.

“The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting the health and lives of many, including children. The impact of a large-scale outbreak, especially on poor and vulnerable children, can be immense.

“UNICEF is helping prevent the spread of Coronavirus by supplying vital medical supplies, consulting with communities and implementing prevention campaigns.

“It is a priority to stop the spread of this new virus, and the misinformation that’s spreading alongside it.

READ ALSO: Apple Shuts All Stores Outside China Over Coronavirus

“At times like this we need to come together. With your help, I am hoping today to raise £27,000 to help fight this war and I will double the amount if we reach the goal.

“If we manage to reach our target, it will be enough to provide 333,332 pairs of disposable gloves for health workers, 2,777 surgical masks to help prevent the disease spreading further and 9,615 sets of vented goggles.

“Any amount will be welcome to help fight this war against COVID19. Thank you for all the support. Stay safe.”

Pogba’s appeal had raised over £2,000 within hours of being launched.

AFP

Manchester United Thrash LASK Behind Closed Doors In Europa League

Manchester United’s Scottish midfielder Scott McTominay attempts to score during the UEFA Europa League last 16, first leg football match Linzer ASK (LASK) v Manchester United in Linz, Austria, on March 12, 2020.   JOE KLAMAR / AFP

 

Manchester United won 5-0 at LASK Linz behind closed doors in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie, in a competition thrown into chaos as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Odion Ighalo slammed home the opener via the underside of the bar from 20 yards just before the half-hour, and Daniel James added a second with a sharp run and finish just before the hour mark.

Juan Mata bagged a third eight minutes from the end and Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira struck in injury time, as United extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches, with nine clean sheets in that time.

The game was played without fans in line with the guidance of the Austrian government — one of four matches to be held behind closed doors on Thursday.

UEFA on Wednesday confirmed that the first legs between Inter Milan and Getafe in Italy, and between Sevilla and Roma in Spain, would not go ahead as planned.

The announcement came after Spanish authorities suspended flights until March 25 to the country from Italy, which has been the worst hit European nation by the spread of the virus.

With the second legs due to be played next week, it is unclear how the ties will be resolved.

Istanbul Basaksehir won 1-0 at home to FC Copenhagen in Turkey courtesy of a late Edin Visca penalty, in one of just two first-leg matches allowed to take place before a crowd. Rangers against Bayer Leverkusen at Ibrox will also be open to fans.

Basel secured a surprise 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt with Samuele Campo, Kevin Bua and Fabian Frei all on target for the visitors. Germany’s financial capital will also host next week’s return leg, due to coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by Swiss authorities.

Wolfsburg’s game against Shakhtar Donetsk will be played behind closed doors, as will the match between Olympiakos and Wolverhampton Wanderers in Greece.

On Tuesday it was announced that Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis — also the owner of English club Nottingham Forest — had tested positive for coronavirus. He said he was taking “all necessary measures” and “feeling well”.

Wolves asked that the match be postponed, but said that UEFA had rejected that request.

AFP

Man United Beat Man City In Premier League Cracker

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (1st-R) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on March 8, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United completed a first Premier League double over Manchester City for 10 years as Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay punished two errors from visiting goalkeeper Ederson for a 2-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The victory keeps United hot on the heels of Chelsea for a top-four finish in the Premier League just three points behind the Blues in fifth place, which could be good enough for Champions League football next season.

Outgoing English champions City are banned from European football for the next two years pending an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and on this display seem to already be concentrating on completing a treble of cup competitions this season.

A seventh league defeat of the campaign for City means Liverpool are now just a maximum of two wins away from claiming a first league title in 30 years.

City dominated possession early on, but lacked their normal potency without the injured Kevin De Bruyne as United created the better chances on the counter-attack.

The January signing of Bruno Fernandes has been key to United’s 10-game unbeaten run and the Portuguese’s first impact in the game put Daniel James through, but the Welshman fired too close to Ederson.

Martial also allowed the Brazilian to make a comfortable save with a clear sight of goal after outmuscling Fernandinho.

City’s defensive deficiencies have allowed Liverpool to streak 25 points clear. But it was an uncharacteristic error from Ederson that gifted United the lead.

Fernandes was the creator again with a scooped free-kick to pick out the Frenchman and his shot squeezed under Ederson’s right hand and crept in at the near post.

 VAR overlooks penalty shout 

Confidence was now flowing through United as Fernandes headed wide at the end of an excellent team move before Fred was controversially booked for diving when he appeared to have been taken down inside the area by Nicolas Otamendi.

United fans were frustrated VAR did not intervene on that occasion and when it did early in the second half, City were nearly the beneficiaries.

Sergio Aguero was flagged offside long before he fired past David de Gea, but the Argentine was only fractionally off when the move was reviewed.

Moments later Ederson escaped gifting another goal as a routine backpass rolled under his foot and the former Benfica stopper needed to produce a last-ditch tackle on Martial to deny United breathing space.

City then slowly started to up the pressure. Phil Foden’s long-range drive forced De Gea into a fingertip save.

Raheem Sterling then could not stretch to get a good connection on Riyad Mahrez’s cross and De Gea got down well to deny Gabriel Jesus.

However, where United may have buckled earlier in the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men held firm to record a third win in four meetings with City this season.

McTominay sealed the three points deep into stoppage time when he strode onto a wayward throw by Ederson to steer the ball into an unguarded net.

AFP

Guardiola Wary Of Man United Recent Form Ahead Of Derby Clash

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 4, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City will face the “best” Manchester United team of the season in Sunday’s derby as they prepare to go head-to-head for the fourth time this season.

The 3-0 win over Derby in the FA Cup on Thursday made it nine matches unbeaten across all competitions and 22 goals scored for United, although City are also in top form after five straight wins.

City boss Guardiola said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was having a positive influence on his team.

“From what I’ve seen in videos of their games, the players follow him (Solskjaer),” he told his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“I saw the commitment they had and it’s getting better. Now it is their best moment of the season.”

United’s upturn has coincided with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes for an initial £47 million ($61 million) from Sporting Lisbon.

The Portugal international has made and scored goals and he has had a galvanising effect at the club.

“Sometimes the big players can make a good influence,” said Guardiola. “He is an exceptional player and that is why Man United bought him.”

 Away wins 

All three derbies so far this season have been won by the away side, with United twice victorious at the Etihad and City winning 3-1 at Old Trafford in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.

But Guardiola has won all three of his league derbies at Old Trafford.

United were described by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as defensive earlier in the season but that is not a view shared by the City boss.

“It doesn’t look like that from what I have seen,” he said. “I watched their recent games and they were incredibly aggressive and that will happen at Old Trafford.

“In some games they defended but I watched them at Goodison and they played a good game (the 1-1 draw at Everton last Sunday).”

The title has effectively gone for City, with Liverpool needing just four wins to wrap up the Premier League, while United, in fifth place, are embroiled in a battle for a Champions League spot.

Second-placed City are 15 points ahead of their cross-city rivals but Guardiola is not buying the theory that Sunday’s meeting matters more to United.

“When we believe it’s more important for them, we are going to lose,” he said.

“We have to have belief, that is so important. I’ve never played a game thinking about points or whether it is more or less comfortable. Every game we play, we try to win.”

Guardiola is hopeful that Kevin De Bruyne will be available to play at Old Trafford.

The Belgian injured his back in the League Cup final win over Aston Villa last week and did not feature in the FA Cup win at Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday.

AFP

Ighalo Double Powers United Past Rooney’s Derby Into FA Cup Quarters

Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo (25) scores his team’s third goal during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United on March 5, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Odion Ighalo ruined Wayne Rooney’s hopes of leading Derby to an FA Cup upset against Manchester United as the Nigeria striker’s double sealed a 3-0 win in the fifth round on Thursday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were always in control at Pride Park and Luke Shaw opened the scoring before Ighalo took over to dash Rooney’s bid to knock out his former club.

United will travel to Premier League strugglers Norwich in their sixth successive quarter-final appearance in a competition they have won 12 times.

Ighalo has only been at United for a few weeks after arriving from China, but his second and third goals for the club stole the spotlight from Old Trafford icon Rooney.

Rooney left United in 2017 after 13 glittering years including five Premier League titles, Champions League glory and a club record 253 goals.

The 34-year-old had spells at Everton and DC United before joining second-tier Derby in a player-coach role alongside boss Phillip Cocu in January.

It was the first time Rooney had faced United since playing for Everton in January 2018 and he remains without a goal in seven appearances against them.

Eighteen years after he burst onto the scene as a teenager with a brilliant goal for Everton against Arsenal, Rooney remains one of English football’s most fascinating figures and he was the centre of attention as fans from both teams chanted his name before kick-off.

But, no longer the effervescent menace who terrorised defenders with his power and poise, Rooney is playing in a deep-lying role these days and he couldn’t quite roll back the years in the face of a composed United display.

It was a Derby player 16 years younger than Rooney who almost gave the hosts a shock lead when Louis Sibley fired just wide from long-range.

Rooney went even closer with a curling free-kick that forced Sergio Romeo to make a sprawling save at his near post.

There are six changes for United as Romero started in goal for David De Gea after his howler in the draw at Everton last weekend, while Harry Maguire was ruled out with an ankle injury.

Bruno Fernandes, the new idol for United fans, was in the team and the Portugal midfielder was starting to pull the strings.

United looked more dangerous once Fernandes heated up and Derby keeper Kelle Roos made a superb save to repel Ighalo’s shot from just six yards.

United’s pressure paid off with a fortunate opener in the 33rd minute.

Fernandes’ shot was deflected high into the air and Shaw met it with a half-volley from the edge of the area, the ball taking a wicked bounce off Jesse Lingard and looping over Roos into the net.

Shaw turned provider as United doubled their lead eight minutes later.

Advancing with intent towards the Derby area, the left-back squeezed a pass into Ighalo, who turned away from two defenders before poking his shot past Roos from six yards.

Rooney was unable to stem the tide and his response was a frustrated foul on Scott McTominay that earned him a booking.

Choosing a more palatable approach to leading the Derby fightback early in the second half, Rooney unfurled a sumptuous pass to Jayden Bogle, whose cross was headed just wide by Martyn Waghorn.

Ighalo ended any hopes of a Rooney-inspired revival in the 70th minute.

Juan Mata picked out Ighalo in the area and when the 30-year-old’s initial shot was blocked, he kept his composure to guide the rebound into the net.

In what would have been an emotional finale for Rooney, his free-kick almost crept in until Romero made a brilliant tip-over.

AFP

Ancelotti Sees Red As Man Utd Draw Everton 

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (L) and Everton’s English midfielder Tom Davies vie to header the ball during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park in Manchester United, north west England on March 1, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti was sent off after approaching the referee as yet more VAR controversy contributed to a fiery finish in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday.

Goalkeeping errors by both United’s David De Gea and Everton’s Jordan Pickford were central to the outcome at Goodison Park.

But Everton thought they had won the game in stoppage time when a shot from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had opened the scoring, deflected off United’s Harry Maguire and into the net.

The goal, however, was ruled out by the video assistant referee with the offside Gylfi Sigurdsson, lying in the path of De Gea, deemed to have obstructed the view of the keeper.

READ ALSO: Jimenez Late Strike Seal Wolves Win Against Tottenham

Veteran Italian manager Ancelotti was as unhappy as the home crowd on Merseyside, with the Toffees boss sent off after approaching referee Chris Kavanagh on the field.

The draw saw fifth-placed United miss the chance to cut the gap to Chelsea in fourth to a single point in the Premier League table as Everton stayed in 11th position.

Anthony Martial returned to the United line-up in one of five changes to the side made by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following the Europa League victory over Club Brugge in midweek.

Ancelotti made five changes as well, with Andre Gomes starting in midfield for the first time since early November following a severe ankle injury.

It took Everton just three minutes to break the deadlock with a bizarre goal that delighted the Goodison Park faithful.

There seemed little danger as De Gea dwelt on a clearance.

But his eventual kick downfield was blocked by the charging Calvert-Lewin, with the rebound flying into the unguarded United net.

De Gea did make amends in part by denying Calvert-Lewin a second goal by tipping a shot wide while, at the other end of the pitch, Nemanja Matic hit the crossbar as United sought an equaliser.

Another goalkeeping error helped United draw level in the 31st minute when England number one Pickford, with national manager Gareth Southgate watching from the stands, failed to cover Bruno Fernandes’ speculative, if well-struck, effort from long range.

Everton midfielder Sigurdsson went close to making it 2-1 to the Toffees early in the second half.

United’s Victor Lindelof carelessly gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box and Sigurdsson saw his curling strike come back off the post, with Richarlison unable to get the rebound on target as he followed up.

Pickford, as De Gea had done earlier in the game, then atoned for a costly mistake to keep his side in the match.

In the closing moments of normal time, he blocked Fernandes’ initial shot and then acrobatically dashed across his goal to keep out Odion Ighalo’s follow-up.

AFP

Ighalo Scores Debut Man Utd Goal

 

Odion Ighalo, Manchester United’s January signing from China, has scored his first goal for the club. 

Ighalo scored his debut goal in Manchester United’s game against Club Brugge.

READ ALSO: Landmark Man City Win In Madrid Vindicates Guardiola

His goal came six minutes after Bruno Fernandes put the Red Devils ahead from a penalty kick in the 27th minute.

United made it 3:0 just before the half-time break, with a goal from Scott McTominay.

Klopp Responds To 10-Year-Old Man Utd Fan Who Wants Liverpool To Lose

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp sits on the bench before the UEFA Champions League, round of 16, first leg football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on February 18, 2020. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP
Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp sits on the bench before the UEFA Champions League, round of 16, first leg football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on February 18, 2020. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp has sent a letter to a “cheeky” young Manchester United fan explaining that he can not grant his request for Liverpool to lose matches so they do not win the Premier League.

With his side 22 points clear of Manchester City it would take more than a few defeats to prevent Klopp’s unbeaten side from being crowned English champions for the first time since 1990.

Daragh Curley, 10, from Northern Ireland, wrote to Klopp saying Liverpool were “winning too many games”.

“If you win nine more games then you have the best unbeaten run in English football,” he said. “Being a United fan that is very sad.

“So the next time Liverpool play, please make them lose. You should just let the other team score. I hope I have convinced you to not win the league or any other match ever again.”

The German boss, speaking at a press conference on Friday, said he appreciated Daragh’s “cheek” and chose to write back.

“I cannot answer all the letters… I get a lot,” said Klopp. “But it was nice, it was cheeky. We had time that day so I read the letter and I replied.

“It’s a private thing, I get a letter, I respond and the next day it’s in a newspaper. I don’t like that too much but it’s all fine.

“I have no problems with the supporters of other clubs. I think and hope and know it’s a free world so we can choose our club. I don’t think everybody has to be a Liverpool fan.”

In his reply to Daragh’s letter, Klopp praised the youngster’s passion but explained Liverpool could not drop points on his behalf.

“As much as you want Liverpool to lose, it is my job to do everything that I can to help Liverpool to win as there are millions of people around the world who want that to happen, so I really do not want to let them down,” he said.

“Luckily for you, we have lost games in the past and we will lose games in the future because that is football.”

 

AFP

Europa League: Man United Held To A Draw At Brugge

Manchester United’s Portuguese goalkeeper Joel Castro Pereira (L) fights for the ball with Club Brugge’s Belgian midfielder Mats Rits, during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg, football match between Club Brugge’s and Manchester United, at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges on February 20, 2020. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Anthony Martial struck a crucial away goal as Manchester United ground out a 1-1 draw against Club Brugge in Belgium on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 tie.

Nigerian forward Emmanuel Dennis lobbed a stranded Sergio Romero from 30 yards to give Belgian league leaders Brugge the lead on 15 minutes at a chilly, rainswept Jan Breydelstadion.

Martial though hauled United level before half-time with an excellent run and finish after pouncing on a defensive lapse from Brandon Mechele.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made six changes to the side that beat Chelsea on Monday, with Romero handed another start in Europe while Victor Lindelof returned from illness to form a three-man defence alongside Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw. New signing Odion Ighalo again began on the bench.

Brugge coach Philippe Clement, once of Coventry City, handed a European debut to 19-year-old Maxim De Cuyper with captain Ruud Vormer only fit enough to start among the substitutes.

De Cuyper nearly popped up with a goal inside three minutes when Dennis escaped Maguire and skipped towards Romero, his attempt to pull back resulting in Nemanja Matic hooking against the teenager and the ball ricocheting fortuitously over the bar.

Andreas Pereira, United’s Belgium-born Brazilian midfielder, saw a low 20-yard drive tipped behind by Simon Mignolet, with the Brugge goalkeeper setting Dennis up for the opener moments later.

A long kick forward caught United short in defence and Dennis, who scored twice against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in October, outmuscled Brandon Williams before lofting over Romero with the Argentine well off his line.

An increasingly ragged United were fortunate not to fall further behind when Mats Rits scuffed wide before Romero positioned himself expertly to keep out Dennis from a tough angle.

 Martial takes advantage 

Brugge then paid a heavy price when Mechele allowed a bouncing ball to run beyond him, an alert Martial seizing on the opening to race clear and steer calmly beyond Mignolet.

Martial almost bagged a quickfire second as he smacked the post just before the interval, Mignolet extending a vital hand to divert the Frenchman’s curling strike just outside the penalty area.

Brugge will be without Eder Balanta for the return leg at Old Trafford next week after he was booked for a foul on Juan Mata, and the Colombian was replaced by Vormer early in the second half.

Jesse Lingard stabbed wide while lunging to reach a teasing ball from Diogo Dalot before Dennis was again denied by Romero from a tricky position.

Odilon Kossounou squandered a superb chance to put Brugge back on top when he scuffed wide following terrific work on the right from Dennis and a clever dummy from Siebe Schrijvers.

Bruno Fernandes injected fresh life into United as he was introduced for the final 10 minutes, and although the 2017 champions were unable to land a knockout blow they will fancy their chances of finishing off the tie on home soil.

Celtic keeper Fraser Forster saved a late Jens Stage penalty as the Scottish champions drew 1-1 away to FC Copenhagen after Odsonne Edouard’s opener was cancelled by an effort from Senegalese striker Dame N’Doye.

La Liga surprise package Getafe defeated last season’s Champions League semi-finalists Ajax 2-0 in Spain with Brazilian duo Deyverson and Kenedy on target.

Christian Eriksen bagged his first Inter Milan goal in a 2-0 win away to Ludogorets of Bulgaria. Romelu Lukaku added a late second from the spot.

Record five-time winners Sevilla needed the 82nd-minute equaliser from January arrival Youssef En-Nesyri to salvage a 1-1 draw away to Romanians Cluj.

AFP

Europa: Ighalo May Start Against Club Brugge, Says Solskjaer

A file photo of Odion Ighalo. Source: [email protected]

 

 

Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has hinted that former Super Eagles forward, Odion Ighalo, might make the first-11 squad in Thursday’s Europa League match against Club Brugge.

Ighalo, who teamed up with the Old Trafford side from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua on the January transfer deadline day, was a late substitute as the Red Devils powered home to a 2-0 win over Chelsea in their English Premier League tie on Monday.

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) top scorer almost made a scoring debut in the tie with Frank Lampard’s men but saw his shot parried by Chelsea goalkeeper, Willie Cabballero.

Ighalo is part of United’s team that travelled to Belgium to face Brugge in a round of 16 Europa League first leg encounter.

Addressing a pre-match press conference, Solskjaer praised the former Watford hitman whom he described as a man who “knows his craft”.

He said, “Well I’m not going to tell the team. But we’re going to have to rotate with all the games we’ve got coming up and he’s one of them that could start. We’ve not 100 per cent decided yet.”

According to the 46-year-old Norwegian, Ighalo is a goal scorer who has shown his skills during training.

“Well, for me, Odion is a different type of striker for us. He is a box striker, he’s a goal scorer. We’ve already seen in training that he really knows his craft.”

Manchester United Beat Chelsea 2-0

Manchester United’s English defender Harry Maguire kicks the ball clear during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London on February 17, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

 

Manchester United moved to within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea with a smash and grab 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire on Monday.

Chelsea had two goals disallowed by VAR reviews and were furious Maguire was not sent-off early on for an off-the-ball kick out at Michy Batshuayi.

However, Blues boss Frank Lampard cut a frustrated figure as the flaws in both boxes which have seen his side win just four of their last 14 league games were exposed once more against ordinary opposition.

Victory lifts United up to seventh and within two points of Tottenham in fifth, which could be good enough to qualify for the Champions League next season pending Manchester City’s appeal again a two-season ban from European competition.

Lampard made a bold call before kick-off by again dropping the most expensive goalkeeper in football history, Kepa Arrizabalaga, to the bench in favour of the 38-year-old Willy Caballero.

Batshuayi also started with Tammy Abraham ruled out by injury and Lampard’s anger at missing out on a striker in the January window was borne out by a poor night for the misfiring Belgium forward.

Chelsea suffered another injury blow early on when N’Golo Kante hobbled off and the France World Cup winner is now a doubt to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League next week.

The loss of Kante did not disrupt the home side’s early rhythm as Reece James and Willian fired just wide.

Chelsea were then furious Maguire somehow escaped without being sent-off for kicking Batshuayi after the two collided in front of the dugouts.

The former Marseille attacker then squandered the first of a host of chances by firing wide from Mason Mount’s cut-back.

– One-way traffic –

Chelsea’s sense of injustice increased when Willian was harshly booked for diving as he went down under a challenge from Bruno Fernandes looking for a penalty.

United had not made Caballero make a single save before going in front a minute before the break when Martial planted a brilliant header into the far corner from Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross.

There was still time for Batshuayi to miss another chance before half-time when he skewed wide from a narrow-angle.

The one-way traffic continued at the start of the second period as Mount hit the post and a brave block from Wan-Bissaka deflected Pedro’s goal-bound effort behind.

But even when Chelsea did get the ball in the net through substitute Kurt Zouma, the goal was ruled out by VAR for a push on Brandon Williams by Cesar Azpilicueta.

Fernandes was unable to make much of an impact from open play in his second United appearance since a £47 million ($62 million) move from Sporting Lisbon.

However, the Portuguese international is a huge threat from set-pieces and nearly caught Caballero out with a free-kick that crashed back off the post.

Moments later, Fernandes provided his first assist for the Red Devils with a corner which Maguire powered home.

Lampard had seen enough from Batshuayi and handed Olivier Giroud a rare appearance off the bench for the final quarter.

The French striker thought he had given Chelsea a lifeline with a near-post header, but was ruled offside after a VAR review.

AFP