Palmer fires Chelsea to last-gasp win over Man Utd

Midfielder scores twice in stoppage time to secure Blues late Premier League win

AFP April 05, 2024


Cole Palmer scored twice deep into stoppage time to complete a hat-trick as Chelsea stunned Manchester United 4-3 on Thursday, all but ending their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Erik ten Hag's men appeared set for a vital win after storming back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 in a breathless game containing a combined 47 shots.

But boyhood United fan Palmer turned the game on its head, levelling from the penalty spot in the 100th minute and then netting the winner moments later in a frantic end to the game at Stamford Bridge.

United were still ahead at 99 minutes 17 seconds, the latest a side has ever led in a Premier League match they have gone on to lose.

The bitter defeat leaves sixth-placed United 11 points off fourth-placed Aston Villa with just eight games to play and facing a season outside Europe's elite club competition.

But it lifts Mauricio Pochettino's side to 10th spot in the table, keeping them in the hunt for a European place after an inconsistent season.

Pochettino said his team had started well but the way they conceded "affected the team in an emotional way".

The Argentine, in his first season at Stamford Bridge, praised 21-year-old Palmer, who has been the club's standout player since he joined in September.

"The impact is amazing," he told the BBC. "He is doing a fantastic job. It is difficult to talk more about him. Today he showed the mentality and the quality.

"I said 'Cole, two minutes more and to believe'."

Chelsea came into the match without a win against Manchester United in 12 Premier League meetings but were ahead in just the fourth minute through captain Conor Gallagher.

Palmer doubled the home side's lead with his first penalty in the 19th minute after Anthony felled Marc Cucurella in a torrid opening for the visitors.

But United were handed a lifeline in the 34th minute when Moises Caicedo inexplicably gave the ball away to Alejandro Garnacho, who burst forward and coolly slotted home.

Five minutes later they were all square when Diogo Dalot's cross found Bruno Fernandes, who headed home at the back post.

Play swung wildly from end to end in a thrilling second period but Garnacho headed home a pinpoint cross from the outside of Antony's left boot to put United ahead in the 67th minute.

The visitors appeared set for all three points but the officials signalled there would be eight minutes of added time.

Chelsea were given a lifeline when Dalot lunged at Noni Madueke and referee Jarred Gillett's on-field decision to award a spot kick was confirmed after a lengthy VAR check.

But the drama did not stop there.

United were caught out by a quick corner from Enzo Fernandez, who played it short to Palmer

The Chelsea man fired home past the despairing Andre Onana with the help of a deflection off United's Scott McTominay to seal the win, sending the Stamford Bridge crowd wild.

"When the eight minutes got added on it gave us a lift -- madness," Palmer told TNT Sports.

The former Manchester City player has now scored 19 goals for Chelsea since he switched clubs on September 1.

"We need to try to win as many games as possible," he said. "To win like that, there is nothing better."

The bitter defeat leaves Ten Hag under mounting pressure at United in just his second season in charge, with new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe yet to decide whether to stick or twist.

Their only remaining hope of silverware is in the FA Cup -- they face Coventry in the semi-finals later this month for the right to face City or Chelsea in the final at Wembley.

"Definitely a setback and now we have to deal with this and get up," said Ten Hag. "We are resilient and you have seen that today.

"The quality of our football is really high, but football is about results and you have to bring it over time."


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