Chelsea 0-2 Manchester United: Pogba stars in an emphatic win against a ponderous Chelsea to breeze into FA Cup quarter-finals
(Getty Images - Chloe Knatt)

Chelsea 0-2 Manchester United: Pogba stars in an emphatic win against a ponderous Chelsea to breeze into FA Cup quarter-finals

Joshua Kerr
chelsea-fcArrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Jorginio, Kovacic (Barkley 71), Kante, Pedro (Willian 58'), Hazard, Higuain
Manchester UnitedRomero, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Mata, Lukaku, Rashford
SCORE0-1, Min.31, Herrera, 0-2, Min.45, Pogba

Life has never been sweeter as a Manchester United supporter since the nostalgic, illustrious glory years under Sir Alex Ferguson. The wheels are firmly back on the Ole Gunnar Solskjær revival train who yet again delivered another tactical masterclass to inspire the Red Devils into the FA Cup quarter-finals after with an ominous victory after breezing past a spineless Chelsea outfit. 

The Norwegian was forced to respond to the first real questions thrown at the interim manager following the club's 2-0 defeat at home to PSG in the Champions League and his team passed the test with flying colours as they strolled to a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Once upon a time - well two months ago - this team looked paralysed by the problems undergone with Jose Mourinho as United - particularly Paul Pogba - recovered from their European woes to inflict further misery on under-pressure Chelsea boss Sarri. 

The hosts crashed out of the FA Cup in a poisonous atmosphere, Maurizio Sarri’s job has never been more under threat than it is now.

Lifeless, fruitless, leaderless. Three characteristics that quickly spring to mind when summarising this anaemic Chelsea team. 

It begs the question whether the club hierarchy will show their old ruthless approach to dismissing managers who aren't delivering the goods despite Sarri leading the Blues in a cup final on Sunday.

Chants of "f*** 'Sarri ball" and "you don't know what you're doing" paint the picture at an utterly venemous Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea ran into familiar problems whilst Solskjær inspired United with their usual energy under the interim boss. The visitors upped the gears in every department from the setback against PSG  as they picked apart the Blues so effortlessly.

The story of the game 

A game with both teams taking the match to their opponent. The visitors started terrific tearing at the Chelsea defence with real pace, Pogba and Juan Mata were enjoying the freedom of the diamond formation continuosly teeing up Romelu Lukaku on the left wing.

The Belgian came close to finding his strike partner after he fired in a low cross which David Luiz, under scrutiny from Marcus Rashford, turned the ball just past his own post.

Herrera gave away a  dangerous free-kick catching Mateo Kovacic before Luiz struck his usual side-foot technique that flew over the wall and was  well saved by Sergio Romero who then recovered excellently to produce another stop and beat clear Pedro's powerful follow-up.

Chelsea manager Sarri was his usual portrait of agitation. Only 20 minutes into proceedings and the Italian was already politely asked to return to his own technical area by fourth official Andre Marriner on two occasions after stalking across into territory reserved for his counterpart Solskjaer.

Ashley Young went into the book for a cynical foul on Pedro. Kepa Arrizabalaga had the home supporters with their hearts in mouths when the Spaniard let a loose ball slide goalwards with Rashford lurking before hacking away nervously.

The match was hindering on a moment of pure class and who else to deliver the fatal blow than Pogba.  United broke with pace moving it smartly out to the wing, the Frenchman analysed his options up and drifted over a beautifully-weighted cross that was begging to be tucked home by Ander Herrera who willingly accepted the gift to fire the visitors in the ascendancy. 

The Frenchman ensured United continuously exploited gaps left in the Chelsea side and the first goal epitomised the elaboration in his game.

There was almost an instant, fluke equaliser when Pedro shaped in a cross from the right that took a slight touch off Luke Shaw and caught out Romero who ended up flashing the ball inches past the far post.

Seconds later there was a goal to go with an assist for Pogba, again with Chelsea very much culpable for their own downfall.

It came from a throw-in, Pogba brushed aside his international compatriot N'Golo Kante and played in Rashford down the right. The Englishman waited patiently with an ocean of space before picking out Pogba who was galloping into the middle with the most audacious cross that the World Cup winner thundered goalbound and his header was too hot for Kepa to handle as United strolled into a 2-0 lead.

Nemanja Matic was booked in the first half and was the on edge of dismissal as he is hacked down Eden Hazard. He was gifted with a reprieve from referee Kevin Friend despite a ring of boos from his former Chelsea supporters.

Lukaku's touch was beginning to fade in the second half. His hold up play struggled and almost put his team on the back-foot after he was robbed by Hazard who moved inside on to his left foot and hit a powerful drive which was deflected heroically by Victor Lindelof.

Rashford continued to torment as the attacking focal point with United continuing to lump it clear each time with the Englishman hunting possession downfield. Kante swiped at the forward with a trip and went into the book.

Minutes later VAR ruled away a tame penalty for the hosts when Antonio Rudiger theatrically went down in the box.

The match was personified when Young won a throw-in late on that was met with raptures from the away fans. They knew the match was won.

It could also be summarised by Chelsea's timidness in the face of adversity after failing to muster a shot on target after the 11th minute.

There are still some unanswered questions about this Chelsea team. Why wasn't Callum Hudson-Odoi brought on into a match that lacked anything imaginative from the hosts?

The Reds Devil's danced their way into the last-eight as Chelsea were left to envy the intensity of their outstanding opponents and will face a testing task in the form of Wolves when Solskjær takes the team to Molineux in March.

Takeaway's from the match

Pogba shows his class

Is there a better player in England on current form? Arguably not. The Red Devils looked so dangerous from midfield and Pogba personified the visitor's tenaciousness in the capital.

The French star is so often compared to midfielders in United folklore for the sake of arguments regarding whether the World Cup-winning midfielder has justified his club-record price tag. 

His assist completely split open a torrid Chelsea back-line and his headed goal was reminiscent of Bryan Robson and put to bed any arguments surrounding Pogba's undeniable class.

Solskaer instant response

With the prospect of European football looking doubtful following their schooling from the French champions Solskjær needed a response from his team. 

He was rewarded and some by his team after they outwitted, outfought and outclassed their ponderous opponents. 

His decision to operate with a diamond midfield paid dividends with Herrera and Pogba enjoying the freedom to attack and exploit the Chelsea boss with both their goals epitomising their manager's boldness.

Sarri looking like a doomed man

The home crowd were in open rebellion and cutting dissent regarding the 60-year-old's management as Chelsea froze when tasked to muster a response.

It's the first competition Chelsea have been eliminated from but such are the scale of the problems that it almost becomes irrelevant.

The fans continued to torment the former Napoli boss by singing fuck Sarriball!” whilst against that, United fans predictably sang of how he’d be getting sacked in the morning to something more inventive: “bring back Mourinho!”.