Jesse Lingard’s penchant for the big occasion brilliantly tipped the balance for Manchester United against title-holders Chelsea as the Reds reclaimed second place in the Premier League table.
United’s no.14 headed in the 75th-minute winner at Old Trafford, connecting with a cross by Romelu Lukaku who had earlier cancelled out the Blues’ opener by Willian to square the match at 1-1 for half-time. It was a masterstroke by Jose Mourinho to bring on Lingard, the scorer of FA Cup and EFL Cup final goals for the club, and the susbtitute had the scent for glory again only 12 minutes after coming on.
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The Reds were in danger of allowing Antonio Conte’s side to draw level in the table and tighten up the battle for the coveted top four berths. But instead the stubborn Reds refused to fold after going a goal down and ultimately restored the longstanding state of play in the league.
Both sides had returned to Champions League football in midweek following the Euro winter break with United playing in Spain against Sevilla 24 hours after Chelsea had drawn with the might of Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.
Conte’s team looked initially like they’d had the longer preparation time and less travelling as they dominated possession and it was a struggle for the Reds to get into the match.