EPL

Scott McTominay the hero as Manchester United see off Chelsea

By Sports Desk December 06, 2023

Scott McTominay’s brace sealed a much-needed victory for Manchester United and their under-fire manager Erik ten Hag against Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea.

Wednesday’s Old Trafford encounter pitted together a pair of Premier League giants going through growing pains as they seek to become contenders again.

United were under extra pressure heading into the match following reports of player unhappiness with Ten Hag, whose side reacted with a spirited 2-1 victory.

McTominay was the hero as the Dutchman’s side deservedly overcame the Blues, whose manager Pochettino was considered his main rival for the United post when he was appointed.

The homegrown midfielder’s first goal came midway through a first half that began with Robert Sanchez saving a Bruno Fernandes penalty and ended with a fine leveller from former Manchester City midfielder Cole Palmer.

McTominay put the hosts back ahead with a powerful header and Chelsea substitute Armando Broja saw a late header hit the post as United bounced back from Saturday’s lifeless loss at Newcastle.

Ten Hag made four alterations from St James’ Park – with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial among those dropping to the bench – and was rewarded with a strong start.

Chelsea goalkeeper Sanchez did well to stop Rasmus Hojlund’s low early effort and produced another big save in the ninth minute.

Antony was caught by Enzo Fernandez when prodding the ball on, leading VAR David Coote to advise Chris Kavanagh to check the pitchside monitor.

The referee pointed to the spot after reviewing the incident, only for Fernandes to follow a stuttering run-up with a poor strike that Sanchez met with a strong hand down to his right.

Soon after Sofyan Amrabat was breathing a sigh of relief after Mykhailo Mudryk hit the foot of the post after his lax pass was cut out as play began to swing from end to end.

United’s defence was looking susceptible, but they were better than Chelsea in possession.

Sanchez denied Alejandro Garnacho and Antony before a close-range attempt from the latter was blocked, with the opening goal of this helter-skelter encounter arriving in the 19th minute.

Garnacho cut back for Harry Maguire to get away a shot that Marc Cucurella blocked, with McTominay controlling the loose ball and fizzing through skipper Levi Colwill’s legs and past Sanchez.

The Scotland international should have had a second in the 32nd minute, with Sanchez denying his six-yard header from Fernandes’ fine cross before stopping his follow-up.

But it was not all one-way traffic. Andre Onana spread himself well to stop Nicolas Jackson on the break, before the United goalkeeper watched Mudryk guide a low shot narrowly wide.

The Ukraine international should have done better there but helped the Blues equalise in the 45th minute, albeit Palmer deserves the credit instead of the man with the assist.

Palmer stretched to reach the ball, drove across the edge of the box under pressure from Victor Lindelof and made space to send a smart, low shot trickling back across into the far corner.

It was a gut punch nearly followed up moments into the second half after Mudryk’s corner was flicked on, with Jackson beating Diogo Dalot to head just over.

Garnacho bent just off target as United returned to the attack, with Antony’s effort taking a deflection wide for a corner that saw appeals for handball fall on deaf ears. The incident was reviewed by the VAR.

The hosts were in the ascendancy and Garnacho hooked a cross to the far post, where McTominay beat his man to head past Sanchez.

Colwill laid on the deck claiming a push that was checked by VAR but the goal was given the green light upon review.

United pushed for a quickfire third and McTominay mishit when presented with the chance for a hat-trick after Antony cut out a Sanchez ball.

Substitute Reece James got back to block Garnacho’s attempt from Onana’s long ball forwards, with the Argentina international going agonisingly close from turning in replacement Sergio Reguilon’s pass.

Chelsea made the home side sweat in the closing stages. There was a collective intake of breath when James went close to finding Fernandez and another when Broja’s header came back off the far post.

Related items

  • 'There are no gimmies' – Dyche warns Everton not to step off the pedal 'There are no gimmies' – Dyche warns Everton not to step off the pedal

    Everton's big win over Liverpool shows they are "sticking to the task", so says Sean Dyche, who knows his team must keep their feet on the ground as they aim to overcome Brentford.

    The Toffees won 2-0 at Goodison Park on Wednesday, taking a huge stride towards Premier League safety and denting their rivals' title hopes in the process.

    Everton moved onto 33 points, eight clear of 18th-placed Luton Town with four games remaining.

    It means that, should Luton fail to beat Wolves on Saturday, Everton - who face Brentford at home in an evening kick-off - would be able to ensure their safety with a victory.

    Dyche, though, is taking nothing for granted.

    Reflecting on the derby victory, Dyche said: "Well, it certainly says we're sticking to task, whatever comes at us. I'm certainly proud of that, because we've had some ups and downs ourselves.

    "But it has to be parked because another one is coming around. Another important game, another chance, another opportunity to play at Goodison and get three points, so there is a lot on the next game. So they do have to have a window to enjoy that last night.

    "That's the challenge. Of course, I said enjoy the moment, but I said let's go and do it again.

    "It's a decent outfit in Brentford. They had a funny spell themselves and have come out of that. 

    "It's not easy. There are no 'gimmies' in this league. I praised the players first last night and then said 'Right, tomorrow we come in and get on with business'.

    "We've taken big steps, but there are more to come. We can control the situation ourselves, and that's what we have always aimed to do - even with the points taken away and all that sort of stuff. Grip hold of it and let's run with it and I think we're beginning to show that again. Three wins out of four now: three home wins, clean sheets, good signs."

    Brentford boss Thomas Frank said: "It's been a tough season - everyone is in the Premier League, no matter where you are in the table. But this season in particular because of injuries and other things that have been happening."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Everton - Dominic Calvert-Lewin

    Calvert-Lewin was immense against Liverpool, scoring for the third time in four Premier League appearances. The striker netted in Everton's 3-1 win over Brentford in the reverse fixture in September.

    Brentford - Bryan Mbeumo

    Mbeumo has been involved in nine goals in his last 10 Premier League starts, while Brentford have won 39 per cent of their league games when the Cameroonian has started this season (7/18), compared to 12.5% when he has not (2/16).

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    Brentford have scored eight goals in their last two Premier League away games, netting five on the road for the first time ever in the top flight last time out at Luton. 

    Everton have opened the scoring in each of their last four Premier League meetings with Brentford, doing so in the opening 10 minutes of the match on three occasions in that run.

    None of the 10 league meetings between Everton and Brentford at Goodison Park have ended in a draw, with the Toffees winning seven of these to the Bees' three. However, the Opta supercomputer is predicting a draw is a likely result.

    Having been unbeaten in their first three Premier League games against Everton (W2 D1), Brentford have now lost their last two against the Toffees.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Everton - 32.4%

    Brentford - 38.2%

    Draw - 29.4%

  • Frazsiers Whip to represent Jamaica in inaugural Concacaf Women's Champions Cup Frazsiers Whip to represent Jamaica in inaugural Concacaf Women's Champions Cup

    As expected, Frazsiers Whip will be Jamaica’s representative in the inaugural Concacaf Women’s Champions Cup, a new annual tournament that includes the best clubs from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean and crowns the region’s women’s club champion.

    The tournament is also the sole path through which clubs in Concacaf can qualify for the new FIFA Women’s Club World Cup, which FIFA has committed to launching in the near future.

    By virtue of winning the 2022/23 Jamaica Women’s Premier League, Frazsiers Whip booked their spot for the first edition of the competition, which will feature 11 clubs from seven Member Associations.

    The other confirmed participants are Canada’s 2023 League One Women’s Inter-Provincial Championship winners Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Costa Rica’s LD Alajuelense, Mexico’s Tigres UANL Femenil, as well as the United States trio of Gotham FC, San Diego Wave FC and Portland Thorns FC.

    El Salvador and Panama are yet to confirm their representatives for their solitary spots, while Mexico’s two other representatives will be known at the conclusion of the Liga MX Clausura.

    GILBERT...it is more football and more exposure for our local players.

    Interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert, who guided Frazsiers Whip to league honours, welcomed the move by Concacaf, which he believes will offer some exposure for local players, despite the gulf in class between other leagues around the region and Jamaica's Women's League.

    "It's important for local football, however, I don't think any of our local teams will be able to match up with the teams from Mexico or United States. Those clubs are professional clubs playing in a fully professional leagues, while ours is nowhere close to their standard," Gilbert told SportsMax.TV in a recent interview.

    "But it is good, it is more football and more exposure for our local players. At the same time, I think it sends a signal of how important it is for us to look at what we are doing in terms of resources and surfaces for our local teams. So, it is good move by Concacaf, and I think it's for us now here in Jamaica to look at what we are doing and try to improve the quality of our league," he added.

    The official draw for the tournament is scheduled for June 6.

    Action in the Concacaf Women’s Champions Cup is expected to get underway in August, with a Preliminary Round, followed by Group and Knockout Stage play. The Preliminary Round Play-in will be a single-leg match between two clubs, with the winner advancing to the Group Stage. 

    The Group Stage will feature 10 clubs divided into two groups of five clubs each. Each club will play every club in its group once, for a total of four matches per club (two at home and two away). At the conclusion of Group Stage play, the group winners and runners-up (four clubs) will progress to the competition’s final four. 

    The semifinals, third-place encounter, and final, where the first-ever Concacaf Women’s Champions Cup winners will be crowned, will be centralized in a venue to be announced.

  • Xavi 'convinced' Barcelona U-turn is right decision Xavi 'convinced' Barcelona U-turn is right decision

    Xavi believes staying at Barcelona is the right decision after he performed a U-turn on leaving the club.

    Reports emerged on Wednesday that Xavi, who had initially decided to leave Barca at the end of the season, had changed his mind.

    Confirmation arrived on Thursday, with Xavi and Barca's club president Joan Laporta holding a press conference.

    And Xavi has no doubt he is making the right call.

    “You know that I am a very big Barcelona fan and I always try to do the best for the club," he said, as reported by Football Espana.

    "The most important thing is to think about the institution. When we met with the president I put my position at his disposal, but I saw that I enjoy great confidence from the president and the entire board.

    "The players have been very important, they have made me see that this project has to continue. We are working well, it is a winning project. The project is not finished.

    "The fans have also made me see that I must continue. The staff too. I think about what is best for the club.

    "In January I thought it was best to leave, but now I see it differently. I think it is the best decision.

    "I am 100 per cent committed. The trust they have placed in me again is spectacular. Let's get to work."

    Crunch talks with Laporta were reportedly key to Xavi's decision, and Barca's president added: "It's great news that Xavi is staying. Stability is one of the keys to success."

    Since taking charge of Barca in 2022, he has taken charge of 137 games in all competitions, winning 85 of them (62 per cent), drawing 24 and losing 28.

    His team have scored 261 goals, winning two trophies – the 2022-23 LaLiga title and the 2022-23 Supercopa de Espana.

    Barca's last-gasp defeat in El Clasico last weekend saw them fall 11 points behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid with just six games remaining.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.