Cristiano Ronaldo rescued a point for Manchester United against Chelsea with his first ever Premier League goal against the Blues.
Marcos Alonso had opened the scoring for the visitors on the hour mark; firing a low effort past David de Gea after being found unmarked inside the United penalty area by a Kai Havertz cross. It was a goal that was a long-time coming for Chelsea, who had dominated the opening hour of chances and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.
Yet it took just two minutes for United to draw level as the Blues allowed their former midfielder Nemanja Matic time and space on the ball to thread a pass through for Ronaldo, who took a touch before firing a powerful effort into the roof of the net past Edouard Mendy. Here are five talking points from the encounter at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo ends Chelsea drought
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Cristiano Ronaldo has scored United’s most memorable ever goal against Chelsea, as he headed home from Wes Brown’s cross in the 2008 Champions League final between the two. But before Thursday, he had never found the net against the Blues in the league.
This meeting was his 12 th Premier League fixture against Chelsea in his career and he found the net with a lethal finish past Edouard Mendy. That goal meant Ronaldo has now scored all five of United’s most recent five Premier League goals, and eight of their last nine.
Chelsea’s Unite d drought continues
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The last time Chelsea had defeated United previously in the Premier League was all the way back in November 2017, when Alvaro Morata’s header settled the game at Stamford Bridge. As an indicator of how much time has passed since, the two managers that day – Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho – have both subsequently managed Tottenham and had appointments in Italy. They had not won at Old Trafford since 2013, when Juan Mata scored the winner – when Sir Alex Ferguson was United boss.
This may have been their best opportunity to end that run – the Blues had won each of their last nine matches not at Stamford Bridge, a run stretching back to their draw at Brighton while United’s own form has been miserable for so long.
Rangnick set for Austria job
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In the build-up to Thursday’s clash at Old Trafford, reports emerged that United’s interim coach Ralf Rangnick was set to be appointed as the new boss of the Austrian national team. Rangnick has a two-year consultancy role at United lined up when he steps down as coach at the end of the season, but the nature of that role remains unclear.
Prior to this year, Rangnick had coached for just two seasons in the last decade and had appeared to have permanently gone on the career path of Director of Football, firstly at RB Leipzig and then at Lokomotiv Moscow. His role at United beyond this season was always unclear and it has now become even murkier.
Havertz’s wasteful evening
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Chelsea cut United’s defence to shreds again and again in the opening half with waves of attacks and sustained pressure. That it was still scoreless at half-time was largely due to Kai Havertz – who missed three major openings for the Blues.
Indeed, the German international’s three shots on goals brought up an xG (expected goals) valuation of 0.91 – meaning his chances combined had a 91 percent chance of scoring. Havertz – who has assumed the centre forward’s role in Thomas Tuchel’s side this season, did not enjoy his strongest evening.
Fresh United protests
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Just as with Man United’s home game against Norwich City earlier this month, there were waves of fan protests against the club’s Glazer family ownership. Thousands marched outside Old Trafford ahead of kick-off against the absentee owners, and arrived into the stadium upwards of 20 minutes after kick-off. They had not missed much.
There is an overwhelming consensus among United’s fanbase – and wider afield – that the Glazers are the primary reason for the club’s decline over the past decade due to the manner in which they run the club. Fan protest spiked ahead of a home game with Liverpool a year ago after the ownership’s involvement in the Super League’s formation and have been bubbling under the surface since.