Garth Crooks likens Ander Herrera’s performance against Eden Hazard to one of football’s most famous defensive displays

Richard Parry
Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Ander Herrera’s defensive performance has been widely heralded, but it perhaps Garth Crooks who has served up the biggest compliment.

Eden Hazard struggled to make any impact at Old Trafford as Manchester United ran out 2-0 winners over Chelsea to dent the Blues’ title hopes with six games remaining.

Herrera was pivotal to the result, nullifying Hazard in particular, in a performance that did not go unnoticed by the BBC pundit.

Herrera would score the second goal for Mourinho’s side shortly after the restart courtesy of a deflection, but Crooks believes the Spaniard deserve that bit of luck.

Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Writing in his Team of the Week column, Crooks described Herrera’s performance as the best since ‘Claudio Gentile outwitted Brazil legend Zico’.

That match took place in the second round of the 1982 World Cup, where favourites Brazil were beaten 3-2 by eventual winners Italy – who took the title for the first time since 1938.

Gentile's performance was key to that result.

“He is the sort player who looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, but Herrera is capable of making life very difficult for his opponent,” wrote Crooks.

“His deflected second-half goal, which gave keeper Begovic no chance, was the final body blow for Chelsea - there was no way back for the Blues after that.

“However, it was Herrera's dominance over Hazard that set the tone for United's victory. Not since Italy defender Claudio Gentile outwitted Brazil legend Zico at the 1982 World Cup have I seen a marker nullify a top-class player so completely.”