FA Cup Sixth Round
Chelsea vs. Manchester United
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Monday, 13 March 2017
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Manchester United will not be retaining their FA Cup crown this season after suffering a narrow 1-0 loss at Chelsea.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial injured, and Marcus Rashford starting on the back of illness, the tough task was made increasingly more difficult when Ander Herrera was sent off during a highly-chased opening period.
It was N’Golo Kante who won this quarter-final early in the second half, as the away side barely threatened once down to 10 men.
United lasted longer than they did in the league meeting in October without conceding, and they had an early chance which Marcos Rojo headed over from a corner.
An impressive start from the visitors then saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan fire just wide after a weaker left foot effort.
Quiet for the opening quarter of an hour, Eden Hazard burst into life with an exquisite turn to beat Chris Smalling, and his mazy dribble ended with his shot being turned behind by David De Gea.
The Spanish keeper then denied Gary Cahill from the resulting corner, as Smalling cleared Marcos Alonso’s dangerous cross.
Diego Costa headed over from a corner similar to the chance Rojo had earlier in the half as Nemanja Matic’s ambitious try flew over.
Hazard blazed over from a tight angle before Herrera was sent off for a second booking for a foul on the former despite seemingly minimal contact.
Herrera’s first yellow came when stood still as Hazard ran into the midfielder, and the second came on the back of the Chelsea fans cry for Phil Jones to receive yellow, as referee Michael Oliver lost composure and control of the situation.
Tensions rose all round the ground, with the next chance falling for Victor Moses who fired over before the break.
After the restart, Cesar Azpilicueta struck over before the opening goal arrived.
With backs to the wall in an attempt to defend, Kante was allowed room to shoot, and found the bottom corner with a fine strike from distance.
Azpilicueta fired over for the second time in the half as Costa headed wide from a corner.
Sandwiched between those chances was Marcus Rashford’s sublime dribbling to leave Gary Cahill dizzy, but his resulting attempt was saved by Thibaut Courtois.
Willian curled over, Hazard struck over and De Gea was forced to beat away the former’s near lost attempt.
Paul Pogba dragged wide as United searched for an equaliser but it was too little too late.
Perhaps the outcome would’ve been different had the red card not been awarded, but conceding so soon after half-time proved costly.
Their horrid record at Stamford Bridge goes on, but this was at least a little more spirited than the 4-0 October mauling suffered in the league.
For the first time this season, United exit a competition, and will turn their attentions back to European action on Thursday night when they host FC Rostov.
With a 1-1 draw and away goal to defend or even build on, Jose Mourinho’s side will be looking to book their place in the last eight of the Europa League at 8:05pm in front of the Old Trafford faithful.
United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Rojo; Valencia, Herrera, Pogba, Darmian; Mkhitaryan (Fellaini 37), Rashford, Young (Lingard 81).
Subs not used: Romero, Bailly, Blind, Carrick, Mata.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luis, Cahill; Moses (Zouma 89), Kante, Matic, Alonso; Willian (Fabregas 81), Costa (Batshuayi 90+4), Hazard.
Subs not used: Begovic, Terry, Chalobah, Pedro.
Manager: Antonio Conte