In the aftermath of the 1-1 draw, Graham Potter and Erik ten Hag stood exhausted and possibly dazed on the sidelines.
There had been a lot of back-and-forth maneuvering between the two coaches as they battled for mental supremacy on the field. This is a sport of inches and millimeters, of who can win the grapple and who can muster the bravery to leap highest when everything is on the line, yet it is also a contact sport at its core.
Casemiro Is A Star Player
Chelsea and Manchester United have indeed played in more pivotal matches over the years. More raucous play. More thrilling and satisfying games. Maybe there has never been a game that flaunted its erudition quite so brazenly.
As Potter and Ten Hag argued on the sidelines, the evening started to feel like it was more like a series of separate campaigns than a single game of football, a never-ending struggle for dominance in which both teams likely received what they deserved. United controlled the ball for 53% of the game, but their focus and composure in possession were the deciding factors.
Casemiro seized control when under duress, 20 yards from his own goal and facing the wrong direction, and then he clipped a pass of the purest silk that curled 30 yards over the head of Raheem Sterling and into the path of Diogo Dalot to start another attack.
Or, on the half-hour mark, when Eriksen stole the ball from Ruben Loftus-Cheek high up the field, Casemiro recovered it, Fernandes made the run off of him, and for a moment the 3 of them hopping off in conjunction, like a little lightspeed triangle, setting up a chance that was saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga from Marcus Rashford.