Two penalties in ten minutes from Wayne Rooney helped Manchester United stage a stunning second-half comeback to take a share of the points in a thrilling match at Stamford Bridge. When David Luiz headed in Chelsea’s third on 50 minutes it seemed the Red Devils were dead and buried against a Blues side missing John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.
But referee Howard Webb sparked United’s sensational rise from the dead by awarding the visitors a penalty on 58 minutes after Daniel Sturridge felled Patrice Evra. Rooney converted and ten minutes later his spot kick skills were again in evidence after Danny Welbeck was adjudged to have been fouled by Branislav Ivanovic, a decision less clear than the first penalty. With United’s tails up, Chelsea looked ever more edgy and it was no surprise when the equaliser came six minutes from time, Javier Hernandez the hero with a smart header past Petr Cech. The drama wasn’t over, however, and only a magnificent fingertip save from United keeper David de Gea kept out a rasping drive from Juan Mata. Mata had earlier scored for Chelsea with a sublime volley seconds into the second half, a strike that along with a Jonny Evans own goal in the first half had set Chelsea well on their way. But according to Rooney, the Blues hadn’t reckoned on United’s never-say-die attitude: “We have shown that spirit so many times over the years and this point could win us the League,” the England striker said later. “At 3-0 down, a lot of teams would find it easy to let their heads drop and accept defeat but we carried on working hard and, thankfully, got something out of the game. We really had to dig in.” Chelsea could still have won the game, United’s under-fire young goalkeeper David De Gea making two oustanding saves in the dying minutes, the first from a Mata free kick and the second from Cahill.
United boss Alex Ferguson was also unhappy with the officials, despite the two favourable decisions, saying later that Chelsea defender Gary Cahill should have been sent off in the first half for a challenge on Welbeck. Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas also had some thoughts on the refree: “The first one is an obvious penalty, nothing to say. The second is very, very dubious. I don’t know if Howard Webb had the correct angle to make the decision, but it was unlucky from him to give it… we expect in top games top refs and at the moment it hasn’t been happening for us.”
“The penalties gave them the impetus to get the draw.”
We expect in top games top referees and at the moment it hasn’t been happening for us.”
The point leaves United two behind leaders Manchester City, while Chelsea are in fourth place, one point ahead of Newcastle who won at home to Aston Villa on Sunday.
Booked : Ivanovic(45′), Torres(30′)
Man of the match: Wayne Rooney
Match rating: 8.0/10.
Possession: Chelsea 51% Manchester United49%
Attempts (on target): Chelsea 19 (10) Manchester United 15 (10)
Referee: Howard Webb
- Match Preview – Chelsea vs MUFC (o-posts.net)
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- Chelsea vs Man Utd: Team News, Likely Line-ups & Predicted Score (football-talk.co.uk)
- Man Utd boss Ferguson: Chelsea are in transition. Luiz important (tribalfootball.com)