Manchester United slipped to an undeserved first Barclays Premier League defeat since February as Chelsea took another big stride towards the title through Eden Hazard’s 38th-minute goal.

Wayne Rooney came within a whisker of opening the scoring early on and the Reds arguably dominated the possession and created the most chances during the game, but the visitors’ efforts went unrewarded as the Blues moved 10 points clear of Arsenal at the top of the table.

Louis van Gaal made three changes to his starting line-up, with Radamel Falcao, Luke Shaw and Paddy McNair coming in for the injured Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Daley Blind. It was a reshaped XI, with Rooney dropping into midfield, but it didn’t seem to affect United, who impressed in the opening exchanges with a composed display reminiscent of the one at Anfield last month.

Rooney went agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the fifth minute, when Shaw flew down the left and pulled the ball back to the skipper, whose first-time left-footed shot curled inches wide. Some fans inside the ground thought it was in, but the ball hit the stanchion instead of the back of the net.

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