Manchester United sealed their place in the Champions League in style by demolishing Chelsea 4-1 in the Premier League.
Erik ten Hag's men only needed a point to return to Europe's premier competition in the season's penultimate game. Yet they did more than that in securing the fourth spot on the table. For Chelsea, it was a clear reflection of the miserable campaign they had while sitting in 12th with no European football to savour.
Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes from the spot and Marcus Rashford got a goal each while Joao Felix's late strike was no more than a consolation. Manchester United relied upon counter-attacks for the most part of the game to hit the space behind when Chelsea pushed up. They had to suffer for a period but the strategy ultimately brought the necessary results.
Chelsea had a glorious opportunity to take an early lead in the game. Lewis Hall found himself running into space afforded by Manchester United to square it for Mykhailo Mudryk who put his strike horribly wide in front of the goal. In the next minute, United had a great chance for themselves with a great ball over the top by Raphael Varane sending Anthony Martial through but the Frenchman’s touch let him down.
Casemiro put the home side in the lead right after in the sixth minute, with an unmarked header from Luke Shaw's free-kick. Chelsea soon had a chance at the other end after conceding the early goal. Kai Havertz got to the end of Noni Madueke's through ball but his pass for Conor Gallagher in space to shoot was a little too fast for the midfielder.
Antony find himself in acres of space on the break to run into and he laid it off for supporting Anthony Martial to score but his extra touch allowed Cesar Azpilicueta to make a goal-saving challenge. The Brazilian winger was stretched off in agony with what looks to be a serious injury that rules him out of the FA Cup final in nine days. Marcus Rashford entered the fray having recovered from his own injury problem.
Hall provided a constant threat for Chelsea once and was undone by his teammate again. Havertz was the culprit this time putting his header disappointingly wide for a huge miss from the left-back's cross. The Blues had only themselves to blame for not finding the back of the net with these huge chances. Sancho looked lively for United with his goal-bound effort shortly after was blocked at the other end from Rashford's pass.
Mudryk charged into United's box with a brilliant run and almost got on the end of a fantastic one-two with Gallagher. Aaron Wan-Bissaka snuffed out the danger before blocking Hall's effort. Chelsea once again came close to finding the equaliser with Madueke doing all the hard work once more, passing it to Enzo Fernandez whose delightful through was wasted by Gallagher as his shot went across the goal rather than hitting it.
The Blues were paid for it as United doubled their advantage before half-time completely against the run of play. Casemiro lofted a delightful no-look pass to break the line for Sancho to lay it off for Martial’s tap-in. That goal came as a great relief after a period of struggle from the Red Devils.
Right at the beginning of the second half, United had a great chance to make it 3-0. Victor Lindelof dispossessed Gallagher higher up the pitch and then pass to Sancho who rolled it for Bruno Fernandes unselfishly. The Portuguese however struck the crossbar when he had to finish off the chance to round off a brilliant move. Mudryk once again caused menace but his accurate shot was tame and easily tipped away by De Gea.
United then had two big chances in quick succession to extend their lead further. Wan-Bissaka found himself in scoring position but his shot was saved. From the same action, the ball was recirculated to Rashford letting Malacia fizz in a cross that struck Eriksen forcing Kepa Arrizabalaga to make a goal-line save.
David De Gea denied Lewis Hall's near post effort from a corner, Blue's first shot on target, before clutching Mudryk's deflected shot preventing it from going in. On the break again, Bruno Fernandes slipped the ball behind Marcus Rashford in front of the goal. The 28-year-old was involved in the next talking point of the match after he nutmegged Wesley Fofana with the Chelsea defender tripping him for it inside the box. Fernandes coolly tucked away the penalty to make it 3-0.
Frank Lampard's team were given more humiliation by a fourth goal scored by Marcus Rashford after a defensive blunder at the back. United hit the woodwork for the second time in the match from a deflected strike by substitute Alejandro Garnacho.
Joao Felix scored for Chelsea finally after all their missed chances two minutes from time but Kepa had to throw himself to a series of late efforts from Manchester United to stop any scoring records from being broken on the evening.
Both teams will be involved in the final day of the 2022/23 Premier League season with nothing to play for. United will return to home to face Fulham while Chelsea will take on Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.
Stats and Record
At 23 years and 238 days, this is Chelsea's youngest-ever average starting Xl in Premier League history. They are just the third side ever to field nine players under the age of 24 from the start.
Casemiro has scored four Premier League goals since joining Manchester United this season. Two of those come against Chelsea including his first goal in any competition for the Red Devils.
Chelsea have now trailed at half-time in three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since February 1998.
Christian Eriksen has now provided as many assists as Thierry Henry in the Premier League. Only 11 players have more than the Dane in the competition.
Wesley Fofana's foul on Bruno Fernandes was the first penalty Chelsea conceded all season. No player has
Manchester United have gone unbeaten in 11 Premier League matches against Chelsea for the very first time in competition history. They have won four of those encounters while sharing points in the remaining seven meetings.
Chelsea have now conceded the first goal in 17 different Premier League games. They have done more only twice in the competition in 1993-94 (22) and 1992-93 (18) seasons. Both of them were a 42-game season.
Erik ten Hag is just the fifth manager to guide Manchester United to the top-four of the top-flight in his first season in charge after John Bentley (1912-13), Matt Busby (1946-47), Ron Atkinson (1981-82) and Louis Van Gaal (2014-15). He is the second manager to have done so with the club in the Premier League.
Marcus Rashford has now scored 30 goals in all competitions this season and is the first Manchester United player since Robin Van Persie in the 2012-13 season to reach the tally. 20 of those strikes came at Old Trafford which is also the most by any United player since Wayne Rooney in 2009-10.