Man Utd secure UEFA Champions League football with comfortable win over Chelsea

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United secured a return to European football’s top table with a game to spare.

Manchester United secured qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League as Erik ten Hag’s men cruised to a comprehensive 4-1 win against wasteful Chelsea.

The Dutchman guided the Red Devils to Carabao Cup glory and next month’s FA Cup final during a promising first season that looked certain to finish in the top four until a recent wobble.

But The Hag righted the ship and United secured a return to European football’s top table with a game to spare as Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford scored against toothless Chelsea.

This was a club-record 16th defeat in a 38-game Premier League season for Frank Lampard’s Blues, who saw a poor early tackle by Mykhail Mudryk punished by Casemiro’s sixth-minute header.

There were more chances for Chelsea throughout the evening, including Conor Gallagher’s miss in first-half stoppage time, followed by Martial scoring.

A penalty from Bruno Fernandes and a goal from substitute Marcus Rashford – his 30th of the season in all competitions – wrapped up a victory that was only dampened by Antony’s stretcher departure and Joao Felix’s late consolation.

The Hag stuck with the side that beat Bournemouth and took an early lead when Christian Eriksen curled in a free-kick from the left and Casemiro rose high to head past the sculptor Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Brazil international punched the air after VAR gave the go-ahead after being ruled offside.

Things could have been so different if Mudryk – one of Chelsea’s three changes – had shown some composure two minutes earlier.

With Aaron Wan-Bissaka drawn inside and Antony unable to track Lewis Hall’s run, the winger somehow turned as the promising left-back laid it on a plate.

The game was flowing from end to end and United had a great chance to double their advantage when Eriksen put three teammates through against one defender.

Fernandes’ clever run opened up a lane for Antony to play in Martial, but the hesitating striker was intercepted by Cesar Azpilicueta.

Antony appeared to be hit for the final time as soon as the winger left the pitch on a stretcher as he went up in agony in the innocuous-looking encounter.

He was replaced by Rashford and when play resumed, Chelsea again wasted another wasted chance, Kai Havertz heading Hall’s cross.

Fernandes saw penalty calls against Wesley Fofano disallowed and Gallagher tipped wide as he pedaled to the finish line.

The Chelsea midfielder would go close in stoppage time. Gallagher curled across goal after a good pass from Enzo Fernandez.

It proved to be another costly mistake as Casemiro played an exceptional pass to Jadon Sancho who sent a low ball for Martial to turn at the back post.

That blow was almost followed by another blow with second-half moments.

United, who replaced Luke Shaw with Tyrell Malacia, won the ball through Victor Lindelof and Sancho teed up Fernandes to hit the woodwork.

Like the first half, this one was a fun back and forth.

De Gea stretched to tip Mudryk’s deflected shot behind before the slightest deviation meant Eriksen failed to tap in Malacio’s low cross. Kepa got back to clear off the line and Casemiro curled the follow-up shot just wide.

Hall was denied by De Gea, as was Mudryk’s deflected follow-up, and Chelsea saw penalty claims ignored as they looked to reduce the deficit.

But the 73rd minute ended the hope for a turnaround once and for all.

Fofana caught Fernandes with a lazy recovery challenge after being nutmeged by the Portuguese, who lined up comfortably outside the Stretford End.

Rashford bent over as United pushed for a fourth, which they would get in the 79th minute.

Fernandes cut out a lax Fofano pass and fired the returning striker into an empty net after Kep’s first save only slowed the ball down.

Alejandro Garnacho hit the post and Kepa denied him either side of Chelsea’s fine consolation, with Felix running through the middle to finish off a superb solo drive.

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