Harry Maguire shouldn't have been on the pitch to score Monday, but the Manchester United defender made the race for UEFA Champions League qualification much more interesting regardless.
Maguire's 66th-minute header, his first Premier League goal for Manchester United, controversially doubled the Red Devils' lead in a 2-0 win over fourth-place Chelsea.
🚨 HARRY MAGUIRE SCORES! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/elRC0FAUXt— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 17, 2020
But the 26-year-old should have been sent off 45 minutes prior.
Maguire kicked out at Michy Batshuayi in the 21st minute after a clearance. It looked remarkably similar to a kick that got Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min sent off against Chelsea last month, but a VAR check ruled Maguire's kick wasn't violent conduct constituting a red card.
VAR made Chelsea supporters even angrier about 10 minutes prior to Maguire's header. Kurt Zouma equalized for Chelsea on a set piece, but the video assistant overturned the goal after determining César Azpilicueta fouled United's Brandon Williams. Azpilicueta appeared to be pushed into Williams, but Zouma's equalizer was wiped away regardless.
Chelsea scores, but, it's overturned because of a push. 🤐 pic.twitter.com/UfYC6h5S4V— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 17, 2020
Olivier Giroud seemingly pulled one back for Chelsea in the 77th minute, but VAR once again disallowed a Chelsea goal. This time, the decision was correct.
Giroud goal called back. pic.twitter.com/0RlOqXzSeJ— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 17, 2020
United's win adds plenty of intrigue to a suddenly competitive race for Champions League places. Second-place Manchester City's two-year ban from European competition, if upheld, would allow the Premier League's fifth-place team to qualify for the Champions League and reap the ensuing financial rewards.
Only seven points separate Chelsea and 11th-place Burnley, and seventh-place Manchester United only are three back of Chelsea. The Red Devils are just two points back of Spurs in fifth place, too.
They can thank Maguire for that, even if he shouldn't been in a position to help them.