Manchester United are back in the Champions League. This season, the club played in the second level of Europe, the Europa League. That is not in keeping with the stature of the superpower where, after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, unrest reigned and the trainers were worn out. Ten Hag had to pull ManUnited out of the doldrums this summer.
A championship came too soon, but bringing the club back to Europe’s elite: why not? Ten Hag’s mission succeeded one round before the end. The lead over arch rivals Liverpool was three points, but United still had a game more to go. A draw against Chelsea, which is in the gray middle bracket despite the more than 600 million pumped into the club, was enough.
But Ten Hag will never play for one point. The former coach of Ajax always goes for the win. And that’s how his team played, although the football was not always frivolous in the first half. That was due to the team of interim coach Frank Lampard, who, according to statistics agency Opta, sent the youngest Chelsea ever into the field at 23 years and 238 days.
Chelsea played frivolously and flashy, but forgot one important thing: scoring. Up close, with the right, with the left, with the head: the ball did not want to go in before the break due to the weak finishing of the players. On the other hand, United’s first chance was right there. Casemiro headed a Christian Eriksen free kick against the ropes: 1-0. The VAR still looked for offside, it was millimeter work, but the hit counted.
Anthony Martial doubled the lead just before half-time after a clever ball from Casemiro to Jadon Sancho, who kept the overview and offered the striker an opportunity not to be missed: 2-0. Talk about effectiveness. After the break, Tyrell Malacia immediately came in for the home team, who made it 3-0 twenty minutes before the end thanks to a striking penalty kick from Bruno Fernandes. Marcus Rashford also shared in the celebration, but João Felix determined the final score on a pass from Hakim Ziyech: 4-1.
Manchester United returns to the billion dollar ball after a one-year absence. A blemish on the evening was the failure of former Ajax player Antony, but most importantly: Ten Hag’s mission has been successful.
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