Chelsea 4 Manchester United 3

Thursday 04 April 2024 22:45

Another remarkable comeback by Manchester United ultimately proved in vain as Chelsea conjured up their own recovery in injury time to inflict an agonising 4-3 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Academy graduate Alejandro Garnacho netted clinically in each half, either side of Bruno Fernandes's equaliser, as the Reds came back from 2-0 down to deservedly lead 3-2, a scoreline that remained intact as a breathless Premier League contest headed into its 99th minute.

It was then that a much-needed victory was crucially snatched away from Erik ten Hag's men, as former Manchester City forward Cole Palmer held his nerve after a long VAR check to slot a penalty past Andre Onana for the second time in the game. But as if being held to another last-gasp draw wasn't painful enough, our woes were compounded when Palmer almost immediately completed his hat-trick by smashing home a deflected winner in the 101st minute.

The same England international had made it 2-0 from the spot much earlier in the evening, following an opener by Conor Gallagher. That concerning start followed an alarming finish five miles away, five days earlier, when Chelsea's west London neighbours Brentford traded injury-time goals with United and damaged our quest for a top-four place.

After our rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa dropped two and three points respectively in their midweek fixtures, this was a big opportunity for the Reds to close the gap and it seemed we had taken it in swashbuckling style, with character once again coming to the fore, and Ten Hag using 16 players as his resources were again stretched by a pulsating encounter. But just when we appeared to be over the line, the late twists turned the game on its head one more time.
Highlights: Chelsea v United Video

Highlights: Chelsea v United

The key moments from our clash at Stamford Bridge are now available to watch...


Chelsea took the game to United from kick-off, seizing early control of the possession and camping in their visitors' half. The pressure paid an almost instant dividend too, when right-back Malo Gusto's low cross clipped the heel of his fellow Frenchman, Raphael Varane, and the ball fell very kindly for Gallagher inside the United box.

The Blues' skipper, who was at the centre of a brief media storm when he appeared to ignore a mascot's high-five before Saturday's draw with Burnley, pounced on the invitation to make some positive headlines and swept a finish beyond Andre Onana.

There was an encouraging response from Gallagher's opposite number, Bruno Fernandes, whose fierce shot required a robust block by ex-Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella to prevent it testing Chelsea goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic. Then Antony looked to mark his recall to the XI with a trademark curling effort that the Serbian stopper was able to claim.

But at the other end, Mykhailo Mudryk's shot dropped just wide of the far post and this warning was soon followed up by the home side doubling their advantage. Cucurella was on the front foot this time and when he lost his footing in the penalty area under a challenge by the unfortunate Antony, former Manchester City forward Cole Palmer stepped up to score past Onana for the second time this season, sending the Cameroonian the wrong way from the spot.
It could have been worse for the Reds before the half-hour mark but centre-back Axel Disasi directed his free header over the bar, and Mudryk was shepherded by Harry Maguire into a position where he was only able to hit the side netting, having been fed by Nicolas Jackson in a marauding counter-attack through the middle.

Chelsea were punished for this profligacy when United deservedly drew level with two goals in the space of five breathtaking minutes, and that man Antony was involved in both. For the first one, it was his brilliant touch on the touchline that kept a dropping ball in play, albeit it fell to an opponent, Moses Caicedo. The Ecuadorian should have been comfortable in possession but instead he conceded it to Garnacho, who gleefully charged forward and slotted a cool finish past Petrovic.

Five minutes later, the other side of a sprawling Onana save to deny Enzo Fernandez, the scoreboards glowed 2-2. Antony's arrowed delivery across the area found Garnacho on the left and when our first scorer teed up Diogo Dalot for a delicious cross to the back post, Fernandes buried it with a powerful header. This Portuguese partnership was just one of many combinations that were now clicking for Ten Hag's side, although the resurgent Reds had reason to feel relieved when Gallagher's last shot of the half cannoned off the right-hand post.
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Matchday Review: Chelsea v United

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If an enforced change in defence was far from ideal for the restart, with Varane replaced by the fit-again Jonny Evans, it was seemingly unconcerning for Maguire who thrillingly threatened to score the fifth goal of a frenetic game. As his new centre-back partner settled in, the Reds' no.5 went on a barnstorming run down the left and unleashed a shot that whistled marginally outside the top right-hand corner.

Evans showed he was already up to speed when he brilliantly blocked Fernandez's attempt, after the Argentinian was played into a dangerous position by the omnipresent Palmer. Chelsea's beleaguered defenders, culpable in the collapse of their 2-0 lead, were under pressure to prove they had similar mettle and to his credit, Disasi did well to divert Holjund away from goal.

Casemiro, who grabbed a late equaliser for United in this fixture last season, headed over Chelsea's crossbar and at the other end, Palmer's shot was palmed over by Onana. All of this unfolded in the opening 15 minutes of the second period as the two sides continued to take turns in surging forward, in a manner more reminiscent of a basketball game than a 'big six' football fixture.

The chaos needed a cutting edge and Antony provided it with one of the best assists you'll see anywhere this season. Moments after he wriggled his way past a few Blues on the right and drilled a low centre across the six-yard box without any takers, the winger decisively bent a cross with the outside of his left foot into the mixer and this time Garnacho stooped to bravely head the ball past the onrushing Petrovic.

United's irrepressible Academy graduate reprised the recent, much-memed goal celebration by sitting on the advertising hoardings as the delirious United fans celebrated behind him, savouring yet another comeback. From 0-2 down to 3-2 up, the Reds were favourites now for a gap-closing away win in the race for Champions League places.

However, Palmer in particular had other ideas and when the VAR endorsed referee Jarred Gillett's decision to award a penalty for Dalot's challenge on Carney Chukwuemeka in stoppage time, he converted his second spot-kick of the night in injury time. 3-3 then? We all thought so but there was still time for Palmer to receive a pass from a right-wing corner and deliver a hammer blow that took a wicked deflection off Scott McTominay and gave Onana no chance of saving it, to make the final score, incredibly, 4-3 to Mauricio Pochettino's side.

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Erik: We didn't make the right decisions

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Petrovic; Gusto (Gilchrist, 75), Disasi (Chalobah, 75), Badiashile, Cucurella; Caicedo (Chukwuemeka, 71), Gallagher (c) (Madueke, 89), Palmer, Fernandez, Mudryk (Sterling, 71); Jackson.
Unused substitutes:
Bettinelli, Silva, Casadei, Tauriainen.
Bookings: Gusto, Fernandes, Caicedo.
Goals: Gallagher 4, Palmer 19 (pen), 90+10 (pen), 90+11.

Onana; Dalot, Varane (Evans, 46; Kambwala, 66), Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; Casemiro (McTominay, 75), Mainoo; Garnacho (Mount, 86), Fernandes (c), Antony; Hojlund (Rashford, 66).

Unused substitutes:
Heaton, Amrabat, Eriksen, Amad.
Bookings: None.
Goals: Garnacho 34, 67, Fernandes 39.


The clubs will meet on another two occasions this season, in the Adobe Women's FA Cup semi-final at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday 14 April and our final Women's Super League fixture at Old Trafford on Saturday 18 May.

You can attend both games for the special-offer price of only £22 - simply add them to your basket on