Chelsea humbled by Manchester United on Premier League opening weekend
Frank Lampard’s first Premier League game as Chelsea manager ended in a humiliating defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Two goals from Marcus Rashford and one each from Anthony Martial and debutant Daniel James helped the Reds to a comfortable 4-0 victory in the Premier League’s standout fixture from the opening weekend.
The game appeared to be evenly poised at the hour mark — the sides separated only by a first-half penalty from Rashford — but two goals in the space of a minute allowed United to breathe easily in the game’s final quarter.
A goal for 21-year-old James shortly after he had come onto the pitch was the icing on the cake.
“We rode our luck a little bit in the first half, we’d given up too many chances and we were too sloppy on the ball,” Harry Maguire, making his first start just a week after signing for United, told Sky Sports.
“But in the second half it felt like we were a lot better, much more ourselves and we controlled the game. I think we thoroughly deserved the three points in the end.”
Chelsea appeared to have the upper hand in the opening stages as Tammy Abraham rifled the ball against David De Gea’s post inside four minutes.
But when Kurt Zouma brought down Rashford with a clumsy challenge in the Chelsea box, the England international stepped up to give the home side the advantage, dispatching his penalty firmly into the top-left corner.
The Blues, however, continued to trouble the United goal and struck the post again shortly before halftime through Emerson.
But in the second period, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side started to expose Chelsea’s frailties on the break.
Rashford found himself in space inside his own half and carried strongly towards the Chelsea goal. He fed Pereira, who whipped in an excellent cross that Martial tapped through the legs of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
United’s third came from a long ball over the top of the Chelsea defense from Paul Pogba. Rashford controlled expertly and coolly rolled his shot past Arrizabalaga.
James showcased his blistering speed for the game’s final goal, where Pogba was once again the provider. The Frenchman found his teammate in space on the right side of the Chelsea box, and James hacked home a deflected shot.
It was a nightmare start for Chelsea, which next faces Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup.
Lampard, faced with an injury-hit squad, started with the inexperienced Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount — both recalled after loan spells in the Championship — in attack.
De Gea was forced to make a few smart saves in the first half — but remained largely untroubled in the second.
“There were loads of lessons for us, you can’t make unforced errors and mistakes at this level,” said Lampard, Chelsea’s all-time top scorer who takes charge of the club after Maurizio Sarri’s departure.
“But if you just flicked on and saw it was 4-0 — it was nowhere near a 4-0.
“We controlled major parts of the first half … probably made poor decisions in the final third a couple of times when we should be able to get shots away and score goals. At half time we should have been in the lead.”
United spent big in the summer transfer window and was duly rewarded as its new signings looked calm and composed.
Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka made assured debuts in defense ensuring a clean sheet was kept — something that happened just twice in the league at Old Trafford last season — and the pace of James looks likely to trouble a number of defenses over the course of the season.
In Sunday’s earlier kickoffs, Arsenal defeated Newcastle 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Leicester and Wolves played out a goalless draw at the King Power Stadium.