Paul Pogba drove Manchester United into the FA Cup quarter- finals and pushed Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri closer to the sack as the troubled holders crashed to a 2 – 0 defeat on Monday .
Pogba set up United ’ s opening goal for Ander Herrera with a majestic cross and the France star added the second himself as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ’ s side produced a commanding display at Stamford Bridge .
Chelsea ’ s lacklustre fifth round exit — their first FA Cup defeat since the 2017 final — was another painful blow for Sarri , who is facing a fight to save his job following a dismal debut season .
Chelsea suffered their heaviest defeat for 28 years when they were thrashed 6 – 0 at Manchester City earlier this month, an indignity that came just weeks after a humiliating 4 – 0 loss at Bournemouth .
Amid claims Sarri has lost the support of his players , the former Napoli boss watched ashen – faced as Chelsea collapsed again for a fifth defeat in their last 10 games.
Sarri was subjected to chants of “you don’ t know what you ’ re doing ” and “ you ’ re getting sacked in the morning ” from frustrated Chelsea fans , who called for their former star Frank Lampard , now in charge of Derby, to replace the Italian.
It was the worst possible start to a defining period for Sarri , whose stubborn tactics and dubious man – management have come under intense scrutiny .
Chelsea , currently outside the Premier League ’ s top four , return to action against Malmo in the Europa League last 32 second leg holding a 2 – 1 lead on Thursday .
Assuming he hasn ’ t been axed by demanding Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich before then, a shock defeat against Malmo would be catastrophic for Sarri ahead of next Sunday’ s League Cup Final date with Manchester City .
United are through to the last eight for a fifth consecutive season as they look to win the FA Cup for a record- equalling 13th time and first since 2016.
Ending United ’ s nine – game winless run at Chelsea was another feather in Solskjaer ’ s cap as his team bounced back from last week ’ s Champions League last 16 first leg loss to Paris Saint- Germain.
Solskjaer went unbeaten in his first 11 games and the interim boss showed his tactical skills by out- witting Sarri with his switch to a midfield diamond formation .
– Fatal flaws –
Even Solskjaer ’ s risky decision to select reserve goalkeeper Sergio Romero in place of David De Gea paid off .
In a frantic opening , Romero was called into action when David Luiz drilled a dipping free – kick over the United wall .
Romero kept out Luiz ’ s effort and scrambled to his feet to save Pedro’ s powerful shot from the rebound .
Gonzalo Higuain should have opened the scoring from Cesar Azpilicueta’ s teasing cross , but the Argentine striker headed wide .
Those misses proved fatal for Chelsea , whose early pressure was rendered irrelevant by another lapse of concentration in the 31 st minute .
Mata picked out Pogba on the left wing and the United midfielder , unchecked by the slow – to – react Antonio Rudiger , unfurled a sublime cross that looped towards the far post.
Herrera timed his run perfectly to meet Pogba ’ s delivery in stride and Marcos Alonso fatally lost his man as the Spanish midfielder planted a close – range header past Kepa Arrizabalaga for his first goal since December .
Pogba was only just getting warmed up and he single -handedly ripped Chelsea part to double United ’ s lead on the stroke of half – time .
Playing an incisive pass down the right flank to Rashford , Pogba surged into the Chelsea area and muscled his way above Azpilicueta to meet his team – mate ’ s pin- point cross with a diving header that Kepa couldn ’ t keep out.
It was the 15 th goal Pogba has been directly involved since Solskjaer took charge , underlined his renaissance since the sacking of his nemesis Jose Mourinho.
Nothing was going Sarri’ s way and United ’ s Nemanja Matic , already booked , avoided a red card after tripping N ’ Golo Kante .
Even Eden Hazard, marked out of the game for long periods , couldn ’ t rescue the beleaguered Sarri as he found a sliver of space , only to see his shot deflected over by Victor Lindelof as Chelsea succumbed tamely .