Cristiano Ronaldo was once again the hero for Manchester United, somehow rescuing a point in a 1-1 draw that Chelsea dominated at Old Trafford.
United had won just two of their previous 10 games and started like a team completely void of any confidence or direction. Chelsea had by far the best of the first half, but did not make the dominance count, with Kai Havertz guilty of some ponderous finishing.
The away side eventually took the lead in the 60th minute when Marcos Alonso struck a volley past David de Gea. But United played their trump card two minutes later as Nemanja Matic picked out Ronaldo with a scooped pass and the Portuguese forward controlled well before smashing in an equaliser.
Chelsea huffed and puffed, but failed to muster a grandstand finish to depart Old Trafford with a solitary point from a game soon-to-be United boss Erik ten Hag won’t have enjoyed watching. Here are the things both managers got right and wrong on the night.
Falling to motivate his players
Rangnick has cut a disconsolate figure in interviews in recent weeks, with the German coming towards the end of his interim spell in charge of United. With United’s season petering out and Ten Hag on the way, Rangnick’s position as a stopgap has become awkward. They all want the season over – but Rangnick cannot show that outwardly.
The mild-mannered 63-year-old does not appear to be a big motivator, but there are ways he could inspire performances from his side. Information leaking about his move to become Austria manager on the eve of a match at Old Trafford is hardly ideal. Many players are seemingly more concerned with securing their own future away from United – and that does not make for great viewing on the pitch.
Leaving the left wide open
Rangnick fielded Marcus Rashford on the left-hand side of his 4-2-3-1 formation, with the England striker playing in front of Alex Telles. That combination was absolutely disastrous in the first half, with Chelsea pouring forward down their right at every opportunity which was just about every time they got the ball.
Reece James had a field day in the first half, with Rashford struggling to track back and Nemanja Matic simply jogging around aimlessly in the middle of the pitch, rather than coming across to help the backtracking Telles. The fact they went in with the score at 0-0 said more about Havertz’s wasteful finishing than United’s defending.
Making the most of the width
United did not put up much resistance, but Chelsea’s utter dominance down one side of the pitch was still eye-catching. Tuchel has played Cesar Azpilicueta at right wing-back, with James at right centre-back, at times this season, but he had the right positioning this time out.
James was by far the most influential player on the pitch, putting in countless crosses to trouble the United defence. And it was Chelsea’s opposite wing-back, Alonso, who opened the scoring after Havertz flicked James’ cross towards the back post.
It’s hard to blame Tuchel for Chelsea’s disappointment in not picking up three points. His side were utterly dominant throughout the vast majority of the game and were just lacking the killer touch. Havertz spurned a one-on-one chance from N’Golo Kante’s ball and headed another chance straight into De Gea’s gloves in the first half. Meanwhile, Timo Werner narrowly failed to get on the end of Mason Mount’s whipped low cross in the second half.
Tuchel waited just eight minutes after Ronaldo’s equaliser to call for the cavalry, replacing Havertz and Werner with Romelu Lukaku and Christian Pulisic, but there wasn’t to be a last-gasp winner.