McTominay’s brace secures victory for Man Utd against Chelsea

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Scott McTominay netted two goals at Old Trafford for the second time this season, securing a crucial win for Manchester United and providing relief for manager Erik ten Hag.

The Scotland midfielder’s latest goal against Chelsea didn’t match the thrill of the two he scored in injury time to defeat Brentford in October.
Nevertheless, on a night where Manchester United squandered numerous opportunities, including a missed penalty by Bruno Fernandes among a total of 28 shots, McTominay’s contribution was just as valuable.

His first goal came from an instinctive 12-yard strike, taking advantage of the rebound from Harry Maguire’s blocked header.

Subsequently, after Cole Palmer equalized just before halftime, McTominay found the back of the net at the far post, heading in Alejandro Garnacho’s cross 21 minutes from the final whistle.

Although given a chance for his first career hat-trick by Antony, McTominay scuffed his finish into the ground.

Ultimately, it proved inconsequential as Manchester United withstood late pressure from Chelsea, including a close attempt from substitute Armando Broja that hit the post.

Over 15 years had passed since these two teams faced off in a Champions League final, marking a period of seven years where either Manchester United or Chelsea emerged as Premier League champions.

On this occasion, the bragging rights secured by the hosts only propelled them to sixth place, while the visitors remained in 10th.

This outcome further extended Manchester United’s recent dominance in these matchups to 12 games, while Chelsea’s quest for an away win will now extend beyond 11 years.

Antony flatters to deceive

In the lead-up to the game, Antony expressed his grievances about former players critical of his performances in an interview with one of United’s fan channels. It’s worth noting that the Brazilian didn’t approve the £82 million fee his club paid Ajax for him just over 15 months ago.

Nevertheless, Antony stands as the second most expensive player in the club’s history, a team where defeats often invite criticism. This acknowledgment came from the current manager, Ten Hag, who supported the exclusion of four media members from his pre-match press conference.

The issue was underscored by United’s 19th-minute penalty. If Antony had been more confident with his right foot when receiving the ball, he could have taken it into space, creating a shooting opportunity for himself.

However, true to his usual approach, Antony opted to cut inside, leading him into a challenging situation. Chelsea midfielder Enzo Fernandez slid across his foot while attempting a tackle, and although the incident went unnoticed in real time, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) freeze-frame provided referee Chris Kavanagh with the evidence needed to reverse his decision.

Chelsea’s Spanish goalkeeper, Robert Sanchez, showcased a series of saves, including one to his right to deny Antony, Rasmus Hojlund, and Garnacho in conventional fashion. A particularly unorthodox, or perhaps fortunate, stop came in the form of a double save to thwart McTominay.

The Scottish midfielder’s point-blank header struck Sanchez, and the rebound, after hitting McTominay, came straight back, but once again, the Chelsea keeper stood in the way.

Garnacho’s endeavor to replicate his spectacular volleyed goal at Everton was bound to be unsuccessful, especially as additional opportunities arose and passed by.

By the moment Marcus Rashford was brought into the game six minutes from the end, having been excluded from the starting lineup for a Premier League or Champions League match for the first time this season, except for instances of illness or suspension, Ten Hag had shifted back to a more defensive strategy.

Local boy Palmer on target

Chelsea forward Palmer grew up in close proximity to Old Trafford in Wythenshawe.

His connections to the area are significant; he even attended a Sunday League cup final last spring.

Certainly, Palmer’s skill level far exceeds that of Sunday League football. His decision to leave Manchester City for Chelsea this summer, despite scoring the winning goal for Pep Guardiola’s side in the UEFA Super Cup, underscores his impatience for greater challenges.

He had already inflicted damage on his former club with a last-minute equalizer in the 4-4 epic at Stamford Bridge. On his initial appearance at Old Trafford, Palmer, nearing the end of the first half, shifted onto his left foot at the edge of the area and skillfully slotted a low shot between Victor Lindelof and Maguire, finding the bottom corner.

This marked his fifth goal for the Blues, yet it proved to be his final significant opportunity.

Mykhailo Mudryk squandered two chances in the first half, and Fernandez was unable to convert Reece James’ cross within the six-yard box, contributing to Chelsea’s sixth defeat in what is evolving into another season of profound inconsistency.