Chelsea secured a controlled 1-0 victory against Manchester United as they close in on the Premier League crown.
The Blues, who only had two shots on target all game, had Eden Hazard to thank late in the first half, as the Belgian slotted home the critical goal.
It means Mourinho’s men now just need to beat Arsenal next weekend, and Leicester on the 29th, and the Premier League returns to SW6 for the first time in five years before the month is even out.
The first half started exactly how Mourinho set out for it to start: slow. With his starting eleven featuring Zouma in midfield and Drogba up top, you could sense it would be a less fluid Chelsea performance, with Zouma tucking in and the 4-2-3-1 often became 5-4-1, with Drogba far too isolated.
This meant Manchester United saw much more of the ball in the opening moments, and whilst Rooney and Herrera had the odd pop, Courtois was never really tested.
The same could be said at the other end, as Chelsea played deep and Drogba no longer has that pace to go beyond defenders. Where Chelsea had chances, Drogba’s free-kick hit the wall and two corners bore no returns.
As you thought the likeliest side to break the deadlock would be the visitors, so the hosts decided to ruin their party, namely Eden Hazard. John Terry barged into Falcao to win the ball, legitimately according to Mike Dean, and when Oscar back-heeled to Hazard, the Belgian raced on goal. With the angle tight, the only possible place Hazard could slot in would be between De Gea’s feet, and slot it he did, to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead.
Naturally, this advantage played into the Blues’ hands going into the second. But it could have been much better.
Herrera’s mis-cued pass saw Drogba racing in on goal and his lob of De Gea looked the perfect attempt. Going just wide of goal, Hazard tried to tap it in, but the height of the bounce meant his touch hit the bar.
Manchester United’s tails were equally up. Shaw raced clear and cut back to find Mata stretching, and his shot could not be controlled, looping just over.
Falcao had a golden opportunity but Cahill was smart in blocking the shot. Mata and Young went off for Di Maria and Januzaj as Ramires came on for Chelsea to combat the increasing threat of Luke Shaw.
But there was no real penetration from Manchester United, who were clearly lacking the imposing midfield character of Michael Carrick. Van Persie was to remain on the bench and Falcao was no substitute.
Two more wins and Chelsea are champions again.
Man of the Match
EDEN HAZARD: Chelsea have not been playing well of late but have been grinding out results, says John Terry, and that has mainly been down to this man, Eden Hazard. The Belgian has picked his game up a gear as other play-makers suffer the effects of a long season. The most creative spark in the Premier League and his composure when slotting home the winning goal is Hazard personified. This guy deserves a title-winning medal. 7/10
Mourinho had lots to say: “Football is talent but strategy is also important. Control their direct football to Fellaini and control the wingers from making crosses on the inside foot. When we know Rooney plays in midfield we control his progression into the box. Control set-pieces and don’t give away direct free-kicks as they have three specialists. Wait for a mistake and score a goal. It was what we wanted it to be.”
Louis van Gaal had nothing to be frustrated about: “In my opinion it was the best performance we have had this season. We were the dominant team on the pitch but we lose. Everything is the result.”