Manchester United could have no complaints as Chelsea brushed them aside at Stamford Bridge to make a resounding statement in the Premier League.
Digging into the fallout, three names in particular stood out as Antonio Conte heads into the international break with a grin while Jose Mourinho must go back to the drawing board.
Here’s what we learned from the encounter.
Since John Terry made his debut, Chelsea have waited two decades for another one of their own – and though Andreas Christensen is hardly a born-and-bred Blue he is certainly a player who can stay at the club for a long time yet.
The 21-year-old delivered the performance of his young career after Antonio Conte favoured playing the Denmark international over David Luiz in what he called ‘a tactical decision’.
Whether there is more to the David Luiz omission or not, Chelsea fans will not be desperate for him to return. Christensen treated Stamford Bridge with shades of Terry in the way he handled Romelu Lukaku.
But hearteningly his development gives hope that Chelsea’s youth players have more to look forward to than perennial loans.
Christensen, who signed from Brondby as a 15-year-old, enjoyed two full seasons playing domestically and in Europe with Borussia Monchengladbach and has already won 11 caps for Denmark.
Perhaps Swansea loanee Tammy Abraham will be looking on and wondering whether he can repeat the trick.
A fit-again Marouane Fellaini was at his ungainly worst off the bench at Chelsea, squandering possession and dribbling into blue shirts for much of the 28 minutes he was on the pitch.
However, he also produced United’s best chance of equalising – swivelling after taking down a ball on his chest only for Thibaut Courtois to parry away his scruffy shot.
In the absence of Paul Pogba, Fellaini seems the only man to give United thrust down the middle. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is woefully out of form, Ander Herrera is not playing much better and Nemanja Matic simply cannot do the job of every man.
Amazingly he won eight aerial duels in his cameo appearance – more than twice as many than anyone else managed.
The hope is that Pogba will return after the international break but there are far worse options than Fellaini if you are looking for inspiration, especially in a team that look utterly devoid of it at the moment.
Selling Nemanja Matic may not have been the wisest move in Chelsea’s history but N’Golo Kante’s performance proved why there was a fair amount of logic behind it.
Kante won the ball back 11 times from United, more than any other player on the pitch, but he is continuing to show he’s so much more than a ball-winning midfielder.
The Frenchman is migrating a little higher up the pitch and has an underrated range of passing – and taken as a whole package, he is simply a better player than a solid Matic.
Though Tiemoue Bakayoko is no world-beater yet, it makes sense that Conte would attempt to pair Kante with a player who can drive on up the field with a little more energy in his legs.
If Bakayoko marries his enthusiasm with end product then Chelsea will have added another dimension to an attack that boasts width through their wing-backs and a return to form for both Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard. And much of that is down to Kante.
Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata condemned Jose Mourinho to another damaging defeat against his former club as the champions clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
Morata rewarded an enterprising display from Antonio Conte’s side when the Spain striker headed home early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.
This was an especially painful setback for Mourinho as a second defeat in their last three Premier League games leaves second-placed United lagging eight points behind leaders Manchester City.
While Mourinho licks his wounds, Chelsea manager Conte can take heart from a vibrant performance that keeps his fourth-placed team nine points behind City.
Here are our player ratings…
THIBAUT COURTOIS: Hardly called upon. Made one save from Romelu Lukaku in the first half and a late stop from Marouane Fellaini. 7 (out of 10)
CESAR AZPILICUETA: After a rare indifferent spell, Mr Consistent was back. Did not put a foot wrong and set up the goal. 8
ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN: Selected ahead of David Luiz. Performed well in defence, but missed a good headed chance in the first half. 7
GARY CAHILL: Back on the left of the back three with his confidence seemingly restored. 7
DAVIDE ZAPPACOSTA: Useful outlet down the right but crosses let him down. 6
N’GOLO KANTE: How Chelsea have missed him. Provided the balance that had been absent in the last six games. 8
TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO: Deployed further forwards and did not take his chances, especially in the first half. Yellow for foul on Jones. 6
MARCOS ALONSO: Had seemed fatigued in recent weeks. Was much better here. 6
ALVARO MORATA: Showed why his signing was such a coup. His movement was brilliant and resulted in his goal – although he fluffed a late chance for a second. 8
CESC FABREGAS: Revelled in the return of Kante and less defensive responsibility. Showed his class on the ball. 8
EDEN HAZARD: Heavily marked throughout and recipient of some hefty tackles. Missed a sitter. 6
ANTONIO RUDIGER (for Zappacosta, 66 minutes): Brought on to combat United’s heavy artillery and did just that. 6
DANNY DRINKWATER (for Fabregas, 79): Defended doggedly as United pressed late on. 6
WILLIAN (for Hazard, 87): Had plenty to do defensively and played through Morata, but the chance was spurned. 6
DAVID DE GEA: Could do little to prevent Alvaro Morata’s superb header on an afternoon when he dealt with everything else. 7
ERIC BAILLY: Talented but still raw, the centre-back was largely reliable as the pressure mounted. Morata’s goal left big questions though. 6
PHIL JONES: One of United’s best performers this season, he scored a wonderful early goal… past his own goalkeeper. Thankfully for him it was cancelled out due to a foul. 5
CHRIS SMALLING: Having been dropped by Gareth Southgate and seen his ability on the ball questioned by England’s manager, he performed well enough until Morata scored. 6
ANTONIO VALENCIA: A consistent performer as valuable in attack as defence, he was unable to fly down the flanks with regularity at Stamford Bridge. 6
NEMANJA MATIC: Back at his old stomping ground, the Serbian was a composed presence in midfield – but he could do little to prevent pockets of space opening around him. 6
ANDER HERRERA: A pain in the backside for his opponents, the tenacious midfielder was a thorn in the side throughout. Lacked regular quality. 6
ASHLEY YOUNG: Rejuvenated under Mourinho, he performed diligently at wing-back but did not set the match alight. 6
HENRIKH MKHITARYAN: The Armenian’s latest anonymous performance. A shadow of the player he was towards the back end of 2016-17. 5
MARCUS RASHFORD: Full of running but lacked service and a cutting edge, despite late efforts to draw level. 5
ROMELU LUKAKU: Back at his former home, the striker forced Thibaut Courtois into a first-half save but rarely looked like ending his goalless run stretching back to the end of September. 5
ANTHONY MARTIAL (for Mkhitaryan, 62): Brought on to inject another attacking dimension but could not change the course of this match. 6
MAROUANE FELLAINI (for Jones, 62): Rusty on his return to the team. Fortunate that a sloppy pass was not punished, but threatened towards the end. 5
JESSE LINGARD (for Ashley Young, 78): Added extra running and impetus, but there just was not enough time to turn things around. 6
Many regarded this game, given Everton‘s horrendous start to the season, as the club’s biggest in the Premier League for a decade.
While that may have been overlooking some of the strong positions the Blues found themselves in under David Moyes and Roberto Martinez in years gone by, the manner of the Toffees’ comeback victory mirrored the famous last-day relegation escapes against Wimbledon in 1994 and Coventry in 1998.
Indeed, it was the first time they had overturned a 2-0 deficit and won since Hans Segers let a scuffed shot from Graham Stuart through his fingertips 23 years ago.
Since those days, Everton haven’t been involved in a relegation scrap of that nature but this game felt similar to those two occasions – and given the jubilation at the final whistle and indeed the emotions on chairman Bill Kenwright’s face, it should not be understated how important this victory is for Everton.
David Unsworth’s first win in four as interim manager now gives him at least a fighting chance of getting the job on a permanent basis, but still, there are plenty of decisions for the Blues hierarchy to make over the international break.
Here, we look at the key talking points from the clash as Everton ease their relegation fears.
EVERTON HAVE TO MAKE MANAGEMENT DECISION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Being 2-0 down with just over 25 minutes left to play, long-time Toffees chairman Kenwright and majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri may well have been thinking about how they were going to corner Hornets boss Marco Silva in the corridors of Goodison after the match. The highly-rated Portuguese has been one of the names linked with the club, along with the likes of Sean Dyche and Sam Allardyce, but Sunday’s eventful comeback win has given them food for thought.
Unsworth’s connection with the Toffees, he spent two spells at Goodison as a player and won the FA Cup, has been well-documented – and so has the need for blue blood and a man who truly understands the club to be in charge.
Kenwright and Unsworth were saluting each other at the end of the game and the interim manager’s strong bond with the chairman means he can now not be ruled out of getting the job full-time. Many writers didn’t think they’d be writing that as Everton stared down the barrel of what looked like another defeat in the second-half.
There’s a danger that this win clouds the hierarchy’s thought-process over who they want in charge. For sure, they will be torn between whether they want to think bigger and secure a marquee name (Moshiri’s theory) or rather promote within, in Unsworth.
EVERTON CAN ONLY RELY ON YOUNGSTERS…NOT EXPERIENCE
While Unsworth brought back the likes of Leighton Baines, Wayne Rooney and captain Phil Jagielka for this one after they set out the Lyon debacle, the experienced trio all struggled and looked shadows of their former selfs. Watford’s breakaway second goal, 30 seconds into the second-half, being proof of that when both Jagielka and Baines were caught all at sea.
Rooney’s exit to the sub bench in place of Dominic Calvert-Lewin after 68 minutes when Everton had just nicked a goal back to make it 2-1 went to show how little the former England captain contributed.
Even though Baines converted a crucial spot-kick, defensively, he has really struggled this season as has Jagielka. Both seem to be showing signs of the many miles they have clocked up over the years.
Naturally, Unsworth – the man who guided the club’s under-23 side to the title last season – favours youth, and the youngsters have more than repaid that faith.
It says a lot that Ashley Williams, Morgan Schneiderlin, Kevin Mirallas, Davy Klaassen, Muhamed Besic, among others, were not trusted to be part of this one.
Instead, Calvert-Lewin, the lively sub Ademola Lookman and academy products Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Beni Baningime showed more guts and spirit than most.
The fact Unsworth knows the club’s young talent like the back of his hand and is prepared to give them a chance is something that works in his favour going forward.
Everton are known for giving youth a chance and they need to carry on in this vein to push up the Premier League table.
OUMAR NIASSE IS EVERTON’S KEY MAN
The forgotten man under Ronald Koeman, the man who was virtually forced out by the Dutchman, once again proved that he simply has to play up front for the Toffees. His passion, work-rate and commitment to the cause – his first and Everton’s opener being proof of that – epitomizes his spirit despite all that he’s been through.
Four goals in six Premier League outings – with only two of those appearances coming from the start – is remarkable in what has been a bleak season for most of the squad. He is technically not the best footballer in the world, far from it, but the 27-year-old has an eye for goal few others possess. Until the January transfer window comes around and another striker is signed, Niasse is vital for Everton as they look to now galvanise some momentum.
TOM CLEVERLEY MAKES HIS BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO EVERTON
The former Manchester United prodigy’s two-year stint at the Toffees was far from memorable and most people were surprised Everton managed to secure around £8million for his services back in the summer. Cleverley had become a boo-boy at Goodison last season but reignited his career at the Yellows.
But having failed to muster a truly memorable moment in a blue shirt, a last-minute winner against Newcastle in December 2015 apart, his last-gasp missed penalty was truly his most significant contribution to the Merseysiders.