N'Golo Kante blasted Chelsea to a fiery 1-0 win over 10-man
Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Monday as
Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho feuded on the touchline.
Kante's superb second-half strike that eliminated the holders
came after they had midfielder Ander Herrera sent off before the
interval for two fouls on Chelsea star Eden Hazard.
Incensed by United's aggressive approach in the first half,
furious Chelsea manager Conte confronted United boss Mourinho and
the pair had to be separated by the fourth official.
Mourinho also whacked the ball dangerously close to Conte in the
final moments as he tried to return it to the pitch, prompting
another angry exchange with the Italian.
Conte had the last laugh thanks to Kante and Chelsea's club
record 13th successive home win booked them a semi-final showdown
with Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley next month.
The Premier League leaders, now unbeaten in their last 12
meetings with United, remain on course for the double in Conte's
first season since being appointed as Mourinho's permanent
"Hazard started the game and couldn't play. All the people look
at this and then judge," Conte said of the red card.
It was another frustrating return to Stamford Bridge for former
Chelsea manager Mourinho, who watched United suffer only their
third defeat in all competitions since being thrashed 4-0 by his
old team in October.
"Michael Oliver is a referee with fantastic potential but in four
matches he has given three penalties and a red card (against
United). I cannot change that," Mourinho said.
After a draining trip to Russia for a Europa League tie last week
and, with the second leg against Rostov looming on Thursday, this
always looked a daunting fixture for United, who were without
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial due to
suspension and injury.
Penned in by United in the early stages, Hazard didn't take long
to emerge as Chelsea's driving force and he set the tone with a
balletic turn that left Chris Smalling trailing in his wake.
Hazard's shot was pushed away by David de Gea and it took an even
better save from the United goalkeeper, plunging to his right, to
keep out Gary Cahill's close-range effort from the ensuing
United's response was to target Hazard and Herrera earned a
booking for a crude body-check before Phil Jones followed up with
a crunching challenge.
Mourinho accused Hazard of diving and he responded to a volley of
abuse from Chelsea fans by raising three fingers, in reference to
the number of titles he won during his two spells at the Bridge.
- Undeterred -
Hazard was undeterred and launched into another incisive run past
Jones that ended with a blast over the bar.
When Hazard embarked on another dribble near the half-way line,
Herrera reached out a leg and the slightest contact sent the
Referee Oliver had seen enough and showed Herrera a red card for
his second booking.
Mourinho had a wry smile about the decision, but Conte wasn't
amused by the treatment of Hazard and the Italian had to be
pulled away from the United boss by the fourth official as he
protested about Antonio Valencia's foul on Marcos Alonso moments
Chelsea fans barraged Mourinho with chants of "you're not special
anymore" and Oliver called the managers together to tell them to
calm down as the tie threatened to boil over.
United had done their best to ruffle Chelsea, but Conte's side
kept their cool and broke the deadlock in the 51st minute thanks
to the most unlikely scorer.
Kante had scored just once since joining Chelsea last year, but
that goal came against United and he was about to torment
Taking possession 25 yards from goal, Kante shifted the ball too
quickly for Paul Pogba to close him down and smashed a low strike
past De Gea from 25 yards.
Marcus Rashford had a golden opportunity to equalise when his
surge took him through on goal, but Thibaut Courtois's fine save
condemned United to a painful exit.