EPL

Mauricio Pochettino hails ‘amazing’ late Chelsea show in thriller with Man Utd

By Sports Desk April 05, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino hailed a “turning point” in Chelsea’s strained relationship with their fans after Cole Palmer’s stoppage-time double completed a hat-trick and sealed an unlikely 4-3 win against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

United looked to have the match won until, in the seventh minute of stoppage time, Diogo Dalot fell into Noni Madueke to concede a penalty from which Palmer scored to seemingly rescue a point.

But there was more drama to come. With almost the game’s final kick, Palmer blasted at goal and, via a deflection from Scott McTominay, scored to bury Erik ten Hag’s side and spark joyous scenes amongst home supporters.

Relations between fans and the club have soured as Chelsea’s fortunes have plummeted, but the response at the end was one of unbridled delight, with Pochettino predicting a fresh start off the back of this win.

“It was amazing,” he said. “We were the better team today and it was fair we scored in the the last minute.

“We started really well, 2-0 (up), the game was under control, then we made a mistake and suffered an emotional impact. It wasn’t easy to deal with. In the second half we controlled the game (but) conceded in transitions.

“It was important to finish like that, creating the connection between our fans and players. It’s a very good thing that happened today. It should be a turning point for the fans’ trust in the team.”

It had all looked like being a far simpler affair when his team raced into a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes, Conor Gallagher squeezing a shot beneath Andre Onana’s dive, then a penalty clipped into the corner by Palmer.

United were overwhelmed by Pochettino’s side attacking ferociously, but an error by Moises Caicedo changed the nature of the game as a loose ball straight to Alejandro Garnacho saw the forward race away to score.

The game was level minutes later as Bruno Fernandes stealed away at the far post to nod Dalot’s cross beyond Djordje Petrovic.

Garnacho’s header from Antony’s superb ball midway through the half looked like being the winner.

Then came Palmer’s crazy intervention at the death, as Chelsea breathed life into their bid to qualify for Europe.

“It was really unfair (to be losing),” said Pochettino. “Why were we losing the game. Football is like this. But we always kept believing.

“We were saying to the players ‘two minutes, two minutes’. (At 2-2) we believed we could score the winning goal.

“It was a must-win game if we wanted to reduce the gap above us. It was so, so important.”

A visibly downcast Ten Hag reflected on poor decision-making that led to his team’s defeat.

“We started poor, making individual errors,” he said. “But I had the feeling we were dominating and we fought ourselves back.

“We were in a winning poison with very good football and scoring great goals. Then in stoppage time, we didn’t bring the win over the line.

“You have to do your job, you have to make the right decisions, and we didn’t react quick enough to avoid this situation.

“We dominated the game, especially our wide players were a danger: Garnacho, Antony.

“We have to make better decisions. You saw how we score from counters. We can be such a massive threat and we’ve seen again today an example.

“But we have to read when to keep the ball, especially when you are winning. Keep the ball, pass and move and switch the play instead of giving it way.”

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