Harry Maguire has explained he did not intend to kick Michy Batshuayi after an incident in the first half of Manchester United's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

Maguire scored United's second goal at Stamford Bridge on Monday, heading home from Bruno Fernandes' corner as the visitors moved to within three points of Frank Lampard's side.

However, Chelsea were angered midway through the first half when Maguire avoided any punishment after appearing to kick out at Batshuayi as both tumbled over the sideline.

There was a VAR check for violent conduct, but Maguire was not penalised and the England international claimed he had not intended to hurt the Chelsea forward.

"I can see why [it could be seen as a kick]. I knew I caught him," Maguire told Sky Sports.

"I thought he was going to fall on me, my natural reaction was to straighten a leg, so if he was to fall on me, it was to hold him up. It probably looks worse than it was.

"It wasn't a kick out, there was no intent, it was just my natural reaction to straighten my leg and if he was going to fall on me, to hold him up. I did catch him, I knew at the time but I think it's the right decision.

"I didn't have an intent to hurt him or kick him. It was just a natural reaction to straighten my leg, it wasn't a kick. I've got studs on my boot, makes it a little bit worse. I apologised to him but it was nice the referee has seen sense."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was also adamant his captain was innocent.

"You want the right decision to be made and you're happy that they are made and they weren't made without that help and it's been shown a few times that we needed that help," Solskjaer told Sky Sports when asked of the major officiating calls, with VAR also ruling out two Chelsea goals.

"I wouldn't think [it was a red card]. I think he's just protecting himself there, looks like he's getting a lad over him and he's put his leg where it does hurt."

United are up to seventh, with the race for Champions League qualification becoming increasingly congested, and Maguire stressed the importance of carrying on their form.

"This season we've been far too inconsistent," he said. "We won at Manchester City, beat Chelsea at home, got a point against Liverpool.

"But we've let ourselves down against the teams when the pressure is on to break them down. Next Sunday we've got Watford at home, we're not getting carried away because it's a massive game and we need to get the three points."

Eric Bailly was set to make his first start of the season after being named in Manchester United's line-up to face Chelsea, who were without Tammy Abraham.

Bailly has been gradually making his way back from a knee injury sustained in pre-season and was included in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's XI for Monday's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.

The Ivory Coast defender replaced the unwell Victor Lindelof for his first appearance of the season across all competitions and his first in the top flight since April 2019.

Bailly was named alongside Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw in what appeared to be a back three for United, with Daniel James partnering Anthony Martial up front and Odion Ighalo on the bench.

United, who beat Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of the season, have also been boosted by Abraham's absence for the home side, with the Blues' leading scorer missing out due to an injury suffered in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal in January.

Abraham played with a painkilling injection in Chelsea's draw with Leicester City prior to the mid-season break but did not make the cut this time and Michy Batshuayi came in for his first league start of 2019-20.

Frank Lampard also kept faith with Willy Caballero in goal as Kepa Arrizabalaga once again started on the bench, while Mateo Kovacic and Willian replaced Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi respectively.

Michy Batshuayi and Fikayo Tomori sent Chelsea through to the FA Cup fifth round with a 2-1 win at Hull City.

An early opener from striker Batshuayi calmed any Chelsea nerves, before Tomori's header stretched their lead in the second half. 

Hull's reply was a fortunate one, Kamil Grosicki's free-kick taking a giant deflection off Mateo Kovacic.

The hosts began to believe they could force a replay, but Chelsea withstood the late scare to clinch a place in the last 16 of the competition.

Chelsea swept ahead in the sixth minute from their first serious attack, with the ball falling to Batshuayi close to the penalty spot. The Belgian striker clattered his shot and a deflection off Ryan Tafazolli carried it beyond George Long in the Hull goal.

That made it look bleak for the hosts, given they had never beaten Chelsea in 10 previous FA Cup matches.

Despite showing eight changes from the side that drew with Arsenal on Tuesday, Chelsea's starting XI was strong and signalled boss Frank Lampard's eagerness to win the tie at the first attempt.

Lampard, a four-time FA Cup winner in his playing days, would have been encouraged by Chelsea's forward momentum as Cesar Azpilicueta had a shot blocked before Batshuayi saw an effort deflect wide.

The visitors should have doubled their lead when Ross Barkley made a bright run through the heart of the Hull defence, but the England midfielder's strike was unconvincing and Long blocked, with the Hull goalkeeper later also twice denying Mason Mount and parrying an Azpilicueta shot.

Lampard led Derby County to the fifth round last season before Brighton and Hove Albion ended their campaign, but with Chelsea the trophy is always a target.

The FA Cup represents their best chance of silverware this season, given the Premier League is a Liverpool procession, their EFL Cup campaign is over, and Bayern Munich await the Blues in the Champions League's first knockout round.

Jarrod Bowen has been a goalscoring phenomenon in the second tier of English football and gave a glimpse of his quality just before the hour with a darting run from midfield and a shot that cleared the Chelsea bar by barely a foot.

Hull's hopes were fading when Tomori headed a wonderfully clipped Barkley free-kick inside the left post in the 64th minute for Chelsea's second.

Pedro drilled narrowly wide before chipping into the side-netting, before Hull's reply came with 12 minutes remaining when substitute Grosicki's free-kick took its wild deflection off Kovacic and flew inside the left post.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has challenged Michy Batshuayi to step up and show some consistency with Tammy Abraham seemingly facing a spell on the sidelines.

Abraham collided with the pitchside advertising hoardings late on in Chelsea's 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Tuesday and was later seen limping as he left Stamford Bridge.

Lampard revealed on Friday that the England international did not suffer serious ankle damage in the incident, but the full extent of the injury is still unknown.

Chelsea will be without their 15-goal top-scorer for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round trip to Hull City, meaning just a fourth start of the season in all competitions for Batshuayi.

And the 26-year-old has been urged by his manager to make the most of his rare opportunity to shine.

"He starts [on Saturday], yes, this is a chance for him," Lampard told reporters.

"Part of that has been how Tammy's been - we have seen his breakthrough and the consistency of his game.

"But yes, this is a chance for him and clearly he certainly has got to take that chance in terms of his all-round game and goals and his overall performance."

Batshuayi has scored three goals in his three previous cup starts this term and has five goals in 21 appearances overall.

Asked what he hopes to see from the Belgium striker against Hull, Lampard added: "I don't want to sit here and dissect Michy's game, but I just want to see a performance and every time he gets to be on the pitch.

"There have been times this season where he has come on and he has made a difference, and that needs to be consistent.

"To be fair to Michy - his approach and work ethic, I cannot complain about it at all in training.

"I'm sure he will say he hasn't had that many opportunities that would be normal for a player that's played as much as him this season.

"But the reality of it is, when you get those opportunities, whether it's ten minutes coming on to try and affect a game, or starts in whatever game they are, you need to try and absolutely make an impact.

"At times he's made an impact. At other times not so much. The brutal reality is, I suppose Tammy's had a really good season and his [Batshuayi's] moments have probably not been as much as he would want.

"But he does have to try and make the impact in every little moment and chance he gets."

Frank Lampard is confident Chelsea's back-up strikers can step up in the absence of the injured Tammy Abraham. 

Abraham hobbled off in the first half of Wednesday's 2-2 Champions League draw with Valencia after a collision left him clutching his left side, before he was then taken away on a stretcher.

The England international attempted to play down the extent of his injury immediately after the match, but it has been confirmed he will play no part in Saturday's visit of West Ham.

Providing an update at his pre-match news conference on Friday, head coach Lampard said: "He's got some pain, so won't be involved tomorrow and then we'll see by Monday."

Abraham has scored 10 goals in 13 Premier League games this season, compared to a combined one goal in 12 appearances for Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud - although they only have one top-flight start between them.

However, Lampard is backing the duo to show what they can do while Abraham is sidelined.

"It's a squad game over the course of the season," he said. "The lads have been training well no matter how many minutes they're getting. 

"Every day is a work day so when opportunities come they're ready, so I've got all confidence in them."

Pushed on whether Batshuayi will start against out-of-form West Ham, Lampard added: "We'll see.

"It's not easy when you are not playing as many minutes as you want. I have seen a great work ethic and he has quality. It is great to see."

Chelsea have conceded 32 goals in 21 matches this season, with Valencia the latest side to take advantage of the Blues' slack defending in the midweek draw at the Mestalla.

Lampard has reiterated he has no concerns about his backline, however, especially with Antonio Rudiger closing in on a return to action.

"Antonio is getting closer. He is working very hard and it's like a mini pre-season for him now," Lampard said.

"I didn't like our defending in the final 20 minutes against Valencia, but overall I'm not concerned about the defence. We have conceded more than we would have liked.

"In the Premier League you are going to concede goals. There is always room for improvement. We are okay, but we want more."

Frank Lampard is hopeful the hip injury suffered by Tammy Abraham in Chelsea's Champions League draw with Valencia is not as serious as initially feared.

The England international, who has scored 10 goals in 13 Premier League games this season, limped off the field at the end of the first half and appeared in significant discomfort.

He was eventually helped onto a stretcher and missed the remainder of a 2-2 draw that leaves Group H wide open.

It was suggested to Lampard that Abraham had been taken to hospital, but the Chelsea manager refuted that.

"I'm not sure if that's true, but he's in the dressing room now," he said.

"The word at half-time was it looked quite severe, a bang on the hip. Then the word after the game was it might not be as severe as we first thought.

"That's as much details as I have.”

Speaking about the game, which saw the visitors denied by Daniel Wass' late effort after battling back from a goal down, Lampard admitted the open nature of the contest in Spain was not what he had planned for.

"We both had incredible chances, we had one in the first few minutes," said Lampard. 

"We had numerous ones in the first half, so did they. Maybe their chances were more clear-cut than ours. I wouldn't say I feel fortunate.

"Did I love the match? No I didn't love it, because it hasn't been many times this season where I have had to say 'we kind of got away with that'. Today was one of those because they missed big opportunities.

"Perhaps we deserved the slices of luck that we got, but I won't take away from the fact that we have to take some of our opportunities. It could have been 5-5, 6-6 one of those games."

Daniel Wass scored a fortuitous and crucial late equaliser for Valencia to secure a 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea on Wednesday in a thrilling contest that left Champions League Group H wide open.

Frank Lampard's men had looked on course to leave Mestalla with the victory that would have clinched their spot in the knockout phase after Christian Pulisic's go-ahead strike was added to by a Kepa Arrizabalaga penalty save, but Wass' effort led to a share of the spoils.

A dramatic, end-to-end first half saw both sides threaten regularly and, despite some wretched finishing, two goals in as many minutes from Carlos Soler and Mateo Kovacic – his first for Chelsea – meant the score was level at the interval.

Everything looked to be going Chelsea's way after Pulisic struck and Kepa parried Dani Parejo's penalty, but Wass' right-wing cross rather fortunately went straight in with eight minutes left to rescue Valencia, who would have won it but for an inexcusable stoppage-time miss by Rodrigo. 

 

Chelsea were dealt a potentially major injury blow as Tammy Abraham needed to be carried away on a stretcher at the end of the first half against Valencia on Wednesday.

England international Abraham has been a revelation for the Blues this term, scoring 10 goals in 13 Premier League matches, but he could be set for a spell on the sidelines.

The striker hobbled off the pitch before the half-time whistle in the matchday five Champions League contest and was seen clutching the left side of his torso after an awkward fall.

Chelsea's medical staff initially helped Abraham back towards the dugout but, as the rest of the players headed inside for the break, the visibly emotional forward was then helped onto a stretcher and carried away.

Michy Batshuayi, who endured an unimpressive loan spell at Valencia last season, replaced Abraham at the interval.

Belgium defender Dedryck Boyata bizarrely played in Michy Batshuayi's shirt for part of the Euro 2020 qualifier against Russia on Saturday.

Belgium won the match 4-1 to clinch top spot in Group I and substitute striker Batshuayi spent most of the contest on the bench, although onlookers spotted Boyata wearing his number 23 shirt at the start of the second half.

The mix-up was noticed by match officials around 10 minutes after the interval, and defender Boyata swapped to the correct shirt bearing his own name.

Chelsea forward Batshuayi, who came on for the closing 13 minutes, joked on Twitter: "He realised his dream"

Boyata also saw the funny side, and the Hertha Berlin defender posted a picture of himself in the wrong top on Instagram, along with three laughter emojis.

Frank Lampard has addressed the striking dilemma that he faces at Chelsea after Olivier Giroud was linked with a move away from the club during the week.

The former Arsenal forward is without a goal since August and has slipped behind an in-form Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi in the pecking order.

France manager Didier Deschamps has previously called on Lampard to give the 33-year-old more game time given his importance to the national team, and it's rumoured a return to Ligue 1 could be on the cards in January to maintain that position in France's attack.

All three strikers will likely be involved at Euro 2020 this summer, but Lampard said that does not come into his thinking and he is focused on what happens at club level.

"It's difficult for me and it's difficult for them. I have to care for all the players and pick a squad as I see it for the best of Chelsea as they do for their countries," he told reporters.

"I have three strikers to pick from and I have to make choices, but I can't complain about any of their attitudes.

"Things will look different and that's where you need professionalism. I have had it from all of them.

"I would always have a conversation with a player who says they don't want to play for the football club. We are not at that point yet, so it's not one to discuss right now.

Manchester United moved into the EFL Cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

A penalty and a spectacular free-kick from Marcus Rashford sealed a third away win in a row in all competitions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

Michy Batshuayi had drawn Chelsea level but Rashford struck in sublime fashion just as the home side looked to be building momentum, inflicting a first defeat on Frank Lampard's side since the 2-1 loss to Liverpool on September 22.

Scott McTominay, booked for an early lunge on Mateo Kovacic, whistled a shot just wide from Daniel James' corner 13 minutes in.

United were growing in confidence and Rashford broke the deadlock with a firmly struck spot-kick in the 25th minute after Marcos Alonso had rather clumsily bundled into the back of Daniel James.

Callum Hudson-Odoi had a quiet first half but should have levelled the scores five minutes into the second, the winger failing to connect properly with Alonso's low cross with the goal at his mercy.

Hudson-Odoi fired over before Batshuayi showed him how it should be done, racing away from Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof and blasting a low shot past Sergio Romero from outside the box.

Solskjaer responded by bringing on Anthony Martial and Andreas Pereira in a tactical shift, but it was Rashford who settled the contest 73 minutes in with a sensational 30-yard free-kick that swerved beyond the helpless Willy Caballero.

 

What does it mean? Momentum building again under Solskjaer

This has been the most encouraging 10 days for Solskjaer since his stunning run of results midway through last season that landed him the post on a full-time basis. A draw with Liverpool and now three consecutive away wins have gone a long way towards restoring some confidence at Old Trafford.

It means United head into Thursday's quarter-final draw, while Chelsea will look to get back on track promptly in the Premier League, having seen a seven-game winning run in all competitions come to an end.

Rashford spot on

Rashford scored twice in the 4-0 Premier League defeat of Chelsea in August and showed a clinical touch again at Stamford Bridge.

His first was a penalty taken with much more conviction than the one he saw saved against Norwich City, while his second was a quite stunning free-kick that will have evoked memories of Cristiano Ronaldo in a red shirt.

Pulisic back off the boil

Christian Pulisic fully deserved to start after his hat-trick against Burnley, but his 70 minutes on the pitch yielded little to trouble United's back line.

What's next?

Chelsea travel to Watford in the Premier League on Saturday, with United heading to Bournemouth earlier on the same day.

Frank Lampard believes Michy Batshuayi's match-winning moment in Chelsea's 1-0 triumph at Ajax was just reward for the patience he has shown this season.

The Belgium striker hammered home from fellow substitute Christian Pulisic's assist with four minutes remaining at Johan Cruijff ArenA to snatch a potentially priceless three points in Champions League Group H.

Batshuayi replaced Lampard's first-choice striker Tammy Abraham, who had been mainly subdued, and had already missed a great chance before thumping in Chelsea's winner.

"The fact Christian Pulisic comes on in the last two games and gets two assists, changes games, I thought his performance was outstanding for 25 minutes or whatever it was," Lampard told BT Sport. 

"And Michy, the great thing about the strikers I've got is that, even though Tammy has been scoring for me, the other two stayed patient, worked hard, supported the group and they've got talent.

"So, it was a choice to bring Michy on because of how mobile he can be and he's waited for his moment and he fully deserved his moment there."

Chelsea have now won consecutive away Champions League matches for the first time since 2013 and sit level with Ajax on six points after three matches.

There were a couple of near misses for the Blues, with Quincy Promes having a goal ruled out for a narrow offside call and Edson Alvarez seeing a header hit the post.

"It was our mistake [that led to Ajax's offside goal] and that's why the Champions League is what it is, that's why it's the ultimate because, in a tiny second, if you switch off, it can go against you," Lampard added. 

"But we deserved our luck, I think. I'm a big believer in that, in how you prepare what you're doing with the input out there, you deserve that little break. 

"We haven't had many VAR breaks this season anyway so I suppose it might have been coming, you make your own luck on that one and the one that hits the post. 

"But I thought, for such a creative side that they are, we didn't have Kepa [Arrizabalaga] under many problems and we did have a lot of moments for us in the box where, had we been better, we could have scored more."

Batshuayi was delighted with his strike but was keen for the focus to be on the team effort.

"I think all the team worked hard," he said. "It's good to win, to get three points. I know [I scored the winner] but the important thing is the three points tonight."

Michy Batshuayi's late strike earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Ajax in Wednesday's Champions League Group H encounter in Amsterdam.

The Belgium striker thumped home fellow substitute Christian Pulisic's low cross with just four minutes remaining at Johan Cruijff ArenA to earn the Blues back-to-back way wins in the competition.

Batshuayi had earlier wasted a gilt-edged chance for Frank Lampard's side in a game that had been struggling to get going.

Ajax will feel aggrieved not to have taken at least a point, though, with Quincy Promes on the wrong end of the narrowest of offside calls and Edson Alvarez hitting the post in the second half.

Michy Batshuayi and Thomas Meunier scored as Belgium won 2-0 in Kazakhstan to continue their perfect record in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Belgium became the first team to qualify with a 9-0 defeat of San Marino this week while Kazakhstan's hopes of reaching the finals were ended by Cyprus.

Batshuayi put Roberto Martinez's men in front at Astana Arena on Sunday and Meunier doubled their lead from a superb Eden Hazard pass.

The victory made it eight wins from eight in Group I for Belgium.

Kazakhstan made a breezy start but fell behind to Batshuayi's goal in the 21st minute.

Dries Mertens poked the ball through to Dennis Praet on the right and the full debutant whipped in a low cross that an unmarked Batshuayi stole in at the back post to convert.

Belgium ensured victory with a second strike in the 53rd minute. Hazard's stunning ball over the Kazakhstan back line was placed perfectly into Meunier's path with the right-back driving a fine finish past Dmytro Nepogodov.

Batshuayi should have grabbed a second but could not stretch enough to turn in Mertens' left-wing cross.

Yan Vorogovskiy lashed a rare Kazakhstan opening over the crossbar and Thibaut Courtois saved a late Bauyrzhan Islamkhan free-kick to extend Belgium's run of clean sheets to seven qualifiers.


What does it mean? Belgium contenders for Euro 2020 crown

Belgium reached the semi-finals at last year's World Cup - knocking out Brazil but losing to eventual winners France - and as FIFA's top-ranked team they will be among the favourites at Euro 2020. Martinez has quality throughout his team, with a genuine global star in Hazard, although there is perhaps a lack of depth in some key areas.


Hazard spark lights up contest

With little at stake it was an understandably low-tempo affair, but Hazard provided a moment of magic from which the game will be remembered. The Real Madrid star has not had the easiest start to life at his new club, but showed his quality by setting up Meunier in wonderful fashion.


Mertens flatters to deceive again

Having been peripheral in the rout of San Marino last time out, Mertens was no more impressive against more resilient opposition. He had four shots, more than anyone on the pitch, but none of them were on target to test Nepogodov.


What's next?

Euro 2020's qualifying group stage ends next month. Belgium are away to Russia then at home to Cyprus. Kazakhstan, who could still finish third, end their campaign with a double-header on the road against San Marino and Scotland, the two teams below them in the group.

Reece James starred on his debut and Callum Hudson-Odoi marked his return with a goal as Frank Lampard picked up a first home win as Chelsea boss with a resounding 7-1 EFL Cup victory against Grimsby Town on Wednesday.

The Blues had lost back-to-back matches at Stamford Bridge and were winless there in four under Lampard, but they made light work of their League Two visitors, scoring seven goals in the competition for the first time since 1960-61.

James was one of three full debutants to start for Chelsea and played a part in three of his side's goals, including a strike of his own inside the final 10 minutes.

Matt Green's goal had given Grimsby some hope following quick-fire strikes from Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi.

But Pedro scored from the spot before half-time and further goals followed from Kurt Zouma, James, Batshuayi and the returning Hudson-Odoi in the second half as Chelsea returned to winning ways.

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