Chelsea sealed the Under-21s Premier League title after Lewis Baker’s late strike sealed victory over Manchester United.
Playing in front of over 13,000 fans at Old Trafford, the Blues, who had finished top of the table at the end of the regular season, dominated much of the match despite falling behind to an early Tom Lawrence strike.
Charly Musonda responded soon in brilliant style after but the visiting supporters were made to wait until 11 minutes from time for the winner as Baker fired home, having missed a number of earlier chances.
United lined up with James Wilson, who scored twice on his first-team debut against Hull City, up front on his own while Lawrence, who also debuted in that game, played just behind him in midfield.
Despite a bright start from the hosts, it was goalkeeper Ben Amos who was called into early action as he was forced to acrobatically tip a rasping Baker drive from 25 yards around the post.
At the other end, Wilson worked himself a sight of goal, only for his bending shot to strike Lawrence as it looked set to test Jemal Blackman.
But the pair were on the same wavelength just moments later as a low cross from Saidy Janko on the right was well controlled by Wilson inside the box and, after the striker found Lawrence, the midfielder skipped past one tackle before curling a left-footed effort past Blackman.
Janko was causing countless problems for Chelsea down the United right and he would have created an opportunity for Andreas Pereira had the playmaker’s first touch been more secure.
The hosts would be made to rue that mistake as the visitors went straight up the other end and equalised Musonda picked up the ball on the left before cutting inside onto his right foot, beating four United defenders and planting a low shot into the bottom corner.
The Belgian’s strike seemed to galvanise Dermot Drummy’s side and the winger was again involved when his ball across the edge of the box found its way to John Swift, only for the midfielder’s effort to curl just wide.
With the half wearing down, so did the action, with the only flashpoint of the final 15 minutes of the first half coming when Paddy McNair had appeals for a penalty waved away after going down under the challenge of Ola Aina.
United had struggled to get going after Mudonda’s strike and they almost fell behind early in the second period when full-back Adam Nditi was afforded far too much room but his shot from 25 yards was well held by Amos.
With Wilson very much on the periphery, Warren Joyce’s side were struggling to get a foothold and Chelsea really should have taken the lead when Baker blazed over the top from Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s pull back.
Loftus-Cheek was beginning to have more and more influence on the match himself and it was only the alertness of Amos at his near post that kept him from making it 2-1. Running from deep, the midfielder was allowed far too much room on the right-hand side of the box but his angled drive was parried by the goalkeeper’s body.
With Wilson substituted due to a knock, the home side switched Lawrence to a central role but it was Chelsea who continued to threaten the United goal as Islam Feruz volleyed wide from Musonda’s cross.
Joyce’s charges were, in truth, poor but they almost grabbed the lead 12 minutes from time when Kasey Palmer lost the ball inside the Chelsea half, only for Ben Pearson to hit his effort straight at Blackman from the edge of the box.
And, as with the opener, the hosts were made to pay just seconds later as Baker cut inside onto his right foot after Charni Ekangamene’s poor clearance and drilled his shot past Amos into the bottom corner.
The hosts threw on Tyler Blackett as they looked for an equaliser and the midfielder almost find one in spectacular fashion as his stunning 30-yard volley was pushed away by Blackman in the last moments of stoppage time.