Paul Pogba scored one and created another as Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in their FA Cup fifth round tie.
United, who will face Wolves at Molineux in the quarter-final, were aggressive and clinical in the first half, going ahead through Ander Herrera’s header from Pogba’s superb left-wing cross (31), before Pogba scored a powerful header of his own from Marcus Rashford’s beauty of a delivery from the right (45).
And the visitors kept Chelsea at bay through periods of pressure in the second half with a gritty and professional display, meaning United bounced straight back from their first defeat under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for only their third win at Stamford Bridge in 23 attempts.
It was a nightmare evening for under-pressure Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, whose second-half substitutions were roundly jeered as home fans criticised his methods and sang “You’re getting sacked in the morning.”
During a frantic but even opening, Sergio Romero was tested twice by David Luiz’s free-kick and Pedro’s follow-up, before Gonzalo Higuain headed wide in space from 12 yards.
But United grew into the game and were ahead just after the half-hour mark; Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku combined before spreading left to Pogba, who worked it onto his right foot and brilliantly found Herrera at the back post to nod home unmarked.
And it was 2-0 just before the break as Pogba started and finished a fine counter, finding Rashford on the right flank and latching onto the forward’s superb, curling delivery to power a header past Kepa Arrizabalaga, who did get a touch on the effort.
The second half lacked in chances but not in intensity, as United held off some sustained Chelsea pressure early on and constantly used Rashford as an effective out-ball from defence.
Sarri, under pressure following a poor run of fixtures and a 6-0 defeat at Manchester City last time out in the Premier League, was roundly criticised for his decision to bring on Ross Barkley and Davide Zappacosta for Mateo Kovacic and Cesar Azpilicueta respectively, with fans singing: “You don’t know what you’re doing.”
But the night belonged to United and Pogba, who has now been directly involved in 15 goals in 12 games in all competitions under Solskjaer, six more than he managed in 20 games under Jose Mourinho this season.