Louis van Gaal: Man Utd's best performance of season

By Phil McNultyChief football writer at Stamford Bridge
Van Gaal gives prickly post-match interview

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal claimed they delivered their best performance of the season in the narrow Premier League defeat at Chelsea.

Eden Hazard's goal gave Chelsea victory and means they will be crowned champions if they beat Arsenal and Leicester City in their next two games.

Van Gaal said: "I am not frustrated. I am very proud of my team.

"We played our best match of the season but in football you can lose a match even when you are the better team."

Deja vu? Van Gaal's best-ofs
21 October 2014: "We played our best match of the season"
29 November 2014: "It was the best match of our season"
28 December 2014: "We had our best performance this season in the first half"

United went into the game on a run of six straight league wins and had 70.3% of possession at Stamford Bridge as well as 15 shots to Chelsea's seven. They completed 665 passes while their hosts managed just 284.

But despite dominating the game, United failed to seriously test opposing keeper Thibaut Courtois and remain third, 11 points behind Jose Mourinho's Premier League leaders.

Top four's run-in
ChelseaArsenalManchester UnitedManchester City
76 pts, +39 GD66 pts, +31 GD65 pts, +28 GD61 pts, +31 GD
Arsenal (a)Chelsea (h)Everton (a)West Ham (h)
Leicester (a)Hull (a)West Brom (h)Aston Villa (h)
Crystal Palace (h)Swansea (h)Crystal Palace (a)Tottenham (a)
Liverpool (h)Man Utd (a)Arsenal (h)QPR (h)
West Brom (a)Sunderland (h)Hull (h)Swansea (a)
Sunderland (h)West Brom (h)Southampton (h)

Mourinho said afterwards that, despite United having more of the play, the game went exactly as he had planned.

Van Gaal said: "We are in a process but you have seen my team is always growing, improving every week. It is amazing how we have played here. It is unbelievable that the result is 1-0 but that's football.

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard scored the only goal of the game at Stamford Bridge - his 18th of the season.

"Our fans are disappointed we lost and I am disappointed we lost. That is a pity, especially after we played so well. I have very disappointed players. And I'm very disappointed. But I see that we are improving every week.

"When you can play at Chelsea, like this - as the dominant team - then I'm very happy with that. But I'm also very disappointed. And that's the ambivalence in my feelings."

Van Gaal felt his side should have had a penalty when Ander Herrera tangled with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill in stoppage time.

The Dutchman said: "For me, it was a foul. That's my opinion. You are dependent on the referee.

"When he whistles, it's a penalty, but it is not when he doesn't whistle. My opinion is different. I cannot control the referee. The trainer, manager or coach cannot control the referee."