SCOTT MCTOMINAY fired his second double of the season to take the heat off Erik ten Hag once more.
How relieved the Dutchman must be that he never found a buyer for the midfielder in the summer for his renaissance continues.
It was October 7th when after six defeats in their opening ten games in all competitions they found themselves 1-0 down at home to Brentford.
Up stepped McTominay with two dramatic goals in injury time to snatch the lead.
Here, with more question marks hanging over manager Ten Hag’s head he was the man for the moment again.
He scored in the 19th and 69th minutes either side of a Cole Palmer equaliser right on half-time.
It was a much-needed win after the Red Devils’ lacklustre defeat last Saturday at St.James’ Park.
Ten Hag has not been afraid to make big calls since becoming Manchester United boss.
And there were another two in four changes in his line-up with both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial dropped to the bench.
Or was it such a big call after their displays against Newcastle where both were hooked on 61 minutes.
Rashford has been poor all season, where as Martial should not be anywhere near a United shirt.
Ten Hag had defended Martial on the eve of the match when it was put to him it was time to dump the Frenchman, he clearly had decided to do so anyway.
So into the action in their places came Rasmus Hojlund and Antony, who had spent part of this week moaning to a fan channel that he gets criticised.
But the changes were worked as United made a terrific start to the game that had Old Trafford buzzing.
Bruno Fernandes was orchestrating, Alejandro Garnacho was tearing down the flanks and McTominay had that goal threat about him.
Looking for his first Premier League goal, Hojlund came close with a cross-shot palmed away by Robert Sanchez at full stretch.
Then on six minutes it was a penalty for the home side.
Antony was out to answer his detractors and when he wriggled into box and Enzo Fernandez came across and put his studs down on his foot.
Stats from the match at Old Trafford
It wasn’t immediately evident there had been a foul but VAR David Coote called referee Chris Kavanagh over to the screen and after a number of views he gave the spot-kick.
Up stepped Captain Fernandes, with his hop, step and jump but it was a poor weak kick, a yard inside the left-hand upright and Sanchez saved.
Garnacho latched onto the loose ball but fired over.
United kept up the pace, pressing high and got their deserved lead.
Chelsea’s Nicolas Jackson lost the ball to Sofyan Amrabat and the move went through Fernandes and Garnacho who pulled a cross back.
Maguire was first to it with a shot but when that was blocked McTominay was there with the ball flipping up off one foot and fired home with the other.
The Scottish international who has helped power his country to the Euros finals almost had his second soon after.
When Fernandes crossed, he produced a towering jump and header that was saved. The ball sprang back to him and he instinctively stuck out a foot but could only guide his close-range shot straight at the goalkeeper.
How momentum changed during the match
How momentum changed during the match
United were playing a bit of a risky game pushing so high up in an all out attack and were getting caught occasionally on the break.
From one such Mykhailo Mudryk fired wide, then when the same player slid a ball through to Palmer he showed his class.
With the ball stuck to his toe he nipped across Victor Lindelof and Maguire before returning a low shot back the other way into the far bottom corner.
United must have gone into the break wondering how they were only level.
McTominay netted the winner in the 69th minute.
This Chelsea side are vulnerable, as Ten Hag pointed out in the run-up to the game claiming they ‘do not like to defend’.
They can score though, arriving fresh from a 3-2 win over Brighton after playing the second half against ten men following Connor Gallagher’s sending off.
That might have been only their second win in six but amongst those there were impressive draws with Arsenal, 2-2, and treble champions Manchester City, 4-4.
So United knew they still had a fight on their hands and a bit of tension seemed to grip them early in the second half with the fear they could be chucking more points away.
The result will ease pressure on Erik ten Hag.
They reasserted their dominance on the hour when Antony had a shot deflected just wide.
Then from Shaw’s corner, McTominay’s glancing header found the target, and the goalkeeper.
Garnacho was electric but when he scooped a cross high rather than run it along the ground, Hojlund was not happy.
Undaunted, the 19-year-old Argentine international kept at it. Found by substitute Sergio Reguillon, this time his curling high cross was just what was needed and McTominay headed home.
Ten Hag was anxiously pacing his technical area as the four added minutes ticked down but this would be a win well deserved.
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