Cole Palmer magic secured victory for Pochettino Chelsea as chaotic Blues punish Manchester United

Cole Palmer magic secured victory for Pochettino Chelsea as chaotic Blues punish Manchester United

Mauricio Pochettino said he did not want his stars playing out an “exhibition match”, only to watch on as his troops won, lost and won again the most remarkable of games against Manchester United.

An incredible Harlem Globetrotters-versus-Harlem Globetrotters-type spectacle played out at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea refused to defend, conceded three times, were losing in the 96th minute and still, somehow, triumphed.

As ever, out of the chaos, a hero named Cole Palmer emerged to give Chelsea a win despite a sea of dismal performances from his team-mates.

Chelsea may not come away from this unscathed but their hopes of European football are intact. They can use this as a springboard to salvage something from this absurd season.

Pochettino endures another bad day

Chelsea must find a way to balance defence and attack if they want to make a meaningful push for Europe. A win felt unlikely for 52 minutes of the second half, and Chelsea were never in control even when 2-0 up.

They started well, looking like a team, pressing well and not giving away much. That first-half performance looked to be a blueprint Mauricio Pochettino (who named an unchanged team) could follow… but it lasted just 30 minutes, and United increasingly dominated the rest of the match.

If football management is about controlling performances, this was a bad day for Pochettino, but the emotion of winning like that will see him fight on in the dugout.

Palmer a shoo-in for young player of the year

The statistics are simple: Palmer has 16 goals and is joint-second in the Premier League scoring charts.

Of course, many are penalties but he has not missed any of his nine spot-kicks this season.

He is a man for big moments and it is scary to think where this club might be without their star Mancunian.

He is calmness personified and even his post-match interview, with hat-trick ball under his arm, was so nonchalant you wonder if he grasps just how remarkable he is.

Gallagher enjoys heartwarming moment

Conor Gallagher would have been forgiven for feeling battered and bruised coming into this match, but he responded perfectly to his critics.

After a week of facing a targeted online harassment campaign from sections of Chelsea’s support, he turned Malo Gusto’s cross into Andre Onana’s goal with just five minutes on the clock.

Gallagher celebrated with the fans who really matter, those attending matches in the stadium and who have always supported him.

It was a heartwarming moment for a player who still faces an uncertain future. Mason Mount, who had made a similar move to a rival club, was sitting on Manchester United’s bench and then harshly booed when coming on.

 

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