United punish Boro
|Source: The Hitavada Date: 20 Mar 2017 09:39:40|
MANCHESTER United moved up to fifth in the Premier League on Sunday with a 3-1 victory away to struggling Middlesbrough, who sacked manager Aitor Karanka on Thursday.
Jose Mourinho had said his team would “probably lose” because their current fixture congestion would lead to fatigue, but despite missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera, they counter-attacked well.
Belgium international Marouane Fellaini headed them in front after almost half an hour’s play for his first league goal of the season and Jesse Lingard scored the second just after the hour mark from 20 metres.
Boro’ substitute Rudy Gestede pulled a goal back with 12 minutes left, but in added time goalkeeper Victor Valdes slipped, allowing Antonio Valencia to score a third United goal.
Middlesbrough, by far the lowest scoring team in the league, have still not won a league game in 2017. With United going into the game unbeaten in the league since October, there could hardly have been a greater contrast between the two sides’ form.
By half-time Mourinho’s side had made twice as many chances and taken the lead.
Valdes, after saving with his legs in quick succession, from Rashford and Valencia, was caught in no-man’s land when Ashley Young crossed for Fellaini to head home.
It was the Belgian’s first in the league since December 2015.
The second goal came from a classic break after regaining possession. The home defence stood off for too long, allowing Lingard to run on and score with a fierce drive from just outside the penalty area. Boro’ did show greater attacking intent than in many games this season and pulled a goal back when Chris Smalling failed to clear and Gestede poked in from close range.
Mourinho praised the “attitude and desire” of his players.
“Our guys gave absolutely everything and were magnificent,” he told BT Sport.
CHELSEA MARCH ON
CHELSEA continued their seemingly irresistible surge towards regaining the Premier League title as a late Gary Cahill goal saw them snatch a 2-1 win at Stoke City.
The latest triumph for Antonio Conte’s unstoppable charges came after London rivals Arsenal’s season continued to unravel with a third straight 3-1 away league defeat, this time at West Bromwich Albion.
The Gunners’ fourth loss in five league games raised further questions about the future of under-pressure manager Arsene Wenger, who announced intriguingly afterwards: “I know what I will do. You will soon know.”
Conte had been without the in-form Eden Hazard through injury for what always promised to be an awkward fixture for Chelsea at Stoke and, just as they had recently held Manchester City at home, the Potters again made life difficult.
Willian put the leaders ahead after 13 minutes thanks to a blunder by Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant but Jon Walters equalised with a penalty before half-time after being fouled by Cahill.
The England defender made amends in the 87th minute with a deserved winner and, after Phil Bardsley had been sent off for Stoke in added time, Conte celebrated with his staff on the touchline as Chelsea moved on to 69 points.