Erik ten Hag: Man United belong in Champions League after thrashing Chelsea

United secure place in Premier League top four with 4-1 win at Old Trafford but 'serious' injury to Antony a blow ahead of FA Cup final

Casemiro scored the first goal for Manchester United in the 4-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford. AFP
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Erik ten Hag said Manchester United belong in the Champions League and was happy to guide the club into the competition for next season, although the celebrations on Thursday were soured somewhat by a "serious" injury to winger Antony.

United confirmed their place in the Premier League top four with a convincing 4-1 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford, moving up to third on 72 points, six clear of Liverpool in fifth with one match remaining.

"It’s really important [to finish in the top four]," Ten Hag said. "This club belongs in the Champions League and it’s not so easy in the Premier League. It’s a tough competition, strong, with a lot of teams competing for that. And we made it, so we make a good season."

Casemiro opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he headed home a Christian Eriksen free-kick, and the Brazilian was involved in the second goal on the stroke of halftime when his no-look pass opened up the Chelsea defence for Jadon Sancho to square for Anthony Martial.

United should have had more goals to round off a fine night in the second half as Bruno Fernandes smashed against the bar and Eriksen somehow failed to turn in Tyrell Malacia's cross from point-blank range.

Fernandes did finally get his goal from the penalty spot after the Portuguese midfielder was brought down by Wesley Fofana.

More calamitous Chelsea defending invited Rashford to become the first United player in a decade to score 30 goals in a season.

Fernandes pounced on Fofana's loose pass and teed up the England international, who needed two attempts to beat Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Man United v Chelsea player ratings

The waste of Chelsea's season can be summed up by the £10 million loan fee splurged on Joao Felix in January for a few months with little left to play for. But the Portugal international showed a glimmer of his quality with a surging run and low finish for a late consolation that denied David de Gea his 18th clean sheet of the season.

"It was an open game. I think [Chelsea] are already preparing for next season so they were quite relaxed with an open mind," Ten Hag said. "It’s always difficult to play against and they created chances but also gave away a lot of spaces on the break. To be fair, we should have scored more goals. It’s not my game, it’s too open.

"We have to defend better and not allow them so many chances. And also, in the breaks, we should have scored more. We could be much better but, of course, in the end, we don’t complain about that. We are in the top four and that is the most important tonight, it’s a big compliment for everyone here in this club."

A 'serious' injury to Antony was the only sour note in Manchester United's win over Chelsea. AFP

While United's primary Premier League objective has been achieved, Ten Hag and his team still have an opportunity to secure more silverware this season when they face rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup final on June 3.

However, the League Cup holders could be without Antony after the Brazilian winger sustained an injury against Chelsea, and Ten Hag revealed it does not look good. Luke Shaw also picked up a knock and was withdrawn at halftime, although the manager is more positive about the fullback's fitness.

"It's difficult always to say, straight after the game, but, yeah, Antony is serious," Ten Hag told BeIN Sports. "Luke Shaw, we have to see. I don't think it's too bad but we have to wait 24 hours. We'll have a diagnosis and we will know more.

"Everyone has seen [Antony] came off. I can tell you it is serious but we have to wait a minimum 24 hours, then we know probably more about the status of the injury."

Updated: May 26, 2023, 4:43 AM