Let’s be honest here, Chelsea, Manchester United and football fans in general were robbed of a great finale of football yesterday after Mark Clattenburg sent off two of our players.
It was a fantastic game up to that point with United playing superb in the first third of the game and Chelsea in the second third. The game was set up for a barn storming finish and we had it taken away by the official.
How many times did we used to see Park and Fletcher start against Chelsea for their legs in midfield and their work rate and leave just one up top? To come here and set out with two out and out wingers and to have a go at Chelsea was a surprise but after 30 minutes, it seemed to be a decision that had more than paid off.
The first goal was unlucky as it hit the post to deflect away and out of danger and hit David Luiz who knew nothing about it and rebounded back into the net. Chelsea were exposed down the left hand side and United took full advantage. The second goal was almost a carbon copy of the first. Once again Chelsea were exposed down our left hand side and Antonio Valencia had more than enough time to drill a pass across goal for Van Persie to tap in to make it 2-0. Being honest, I thought to myself that we needed half time sooner rather than later as United were taking us apart and counter attacking us at will.
Once we calmed ourselves down, settled into the game and dominated possession of the ball after the half hour mark, Chelsea looked more than comfortable and De Gea kept United in front. It was Chelsea that were now taking United apart and causing them all sorts of problems. De Gea had to make fantastic saves from a Torres header, Gary Cahill’s header and a David Luiz stunning free kick as he blocked the ball with his feet.
We got our just rewards with a fantastic free kick from Juan Mata. Eden Hazard had really grown into the game and became more and more effective and involved and it was his run that drew a foul on the edge of the box from Wayne Rooney. Mata hit the free kick like a guided missile into the far left hand corner giving De Gea no chance at all. Pure Perfection, Pure Class!!
De Gea was called upon once more right on half time has his scuffed clearance fell to Chelsea and Fernando Torres played in Mata again inside the box. De Gea came out to shut him down and Mata’s toe poke was blocked once again by the United keeper as we went into half time 1-2 down.
We came out for the second half and started where we left off. We were causing United so many problems and because of it, they rented our bus as they were getting sucked deeper and deeper into their own half with Wayne Rooney dropping into midfield to make a line of five in front of their back four to negate the Chelsea space.
Once again our trinity midfielders were fully involved in Chelsea’s play and it was two of them that carved out Chelsea’s equaliser. A delightful cross field pass over the top of the United defence was brought down out of the sky expertly by Mata. His cross was half cleared by United but it had fallen to Oscar and his first time volleyed cross was headed home from six yards by Ramires to make it 2-2. It was game on now without question!
The momentum was with Chelsea and shortly after the goal, De Gea had to make another block with his foot at the near post from Eden Hazard. It really looked like because of the problems Chelsea were causing United now, and because of the amount of times De Gea was called into action that Chelsea would go on and win the game at that stage of the game.
The thing is, you can never ever write off United. Its like they have some black magic!! Fergie made a terrific signing in Van Persie and with him and Rooney up top, you can never count them out in a game. Just as we thought to ourselves the game was there for the taking, Van Persie turned away from his man and played in Ashley Young who had got goal side on Ivanovic with a run across him.
Now, we all know the reputation Young has for diving and as Ivanovic tried to jump out of the way of Young’s feet to get back goal side he catches his leg and Young goes down. Although it looks pretty innocent on the TV replay and it looks like Ivanovic is doing all he can to avoid Young, there is contact and being the last man the Refree had no choice but to send him off.
So, were are back to ten men but even still I am confident that we are still in this game and can create problems for United. Would Chelsea remain with three at the back to cope with RVP and Rooney and stick with the 2-3-1 up top? That question was answered within minutes as the man who always seems to score against us was thrown on by Fergie – Chicarito.
But, just as Danny Sturridge was about to come on for Fernando Torres, Torres was sent off for his second yellow card for diving by Mark Clattenburg. As Torres knocked the ball through Evans’ legs, it looked to me in that moment that Evans caught him and Torres went down. The Referee disagreed with all of us and sent Torres off. Chelsea now down to nine men.
Cesar Azpilicueta came on for Mata and Ryan Bertrand came on for Oscar as RDM looked to sure up our defensive shape in the hope that we wouldn’t concede again and if anything we still looked comfortable.
Eden Hazard who literally worked his socks off was still causing United problems and late on his run passed two or three defenders but came to nothing due to Chelsea’s lack of numbers up top. Hazard came off to a standing ovation and was replaced by Sturridge just in case we could hit United on the counter.
Any side with nine men against eleven is always going to find it difficult to close people down and to make it hard for the opposition over a sustained period of time and just when it seemed as though we would be able to do it, the Officials decided to get involved and make a costly decision to rob Chelsea of a well earned point.
Once again Van Persie was given time to fire a shot at goal, Petr Cech reacted brilliantly and palmed the ball to his left hand side. The ball looked like it would go in but Cech managed to get some spin on the ball and as Chicarito followed up, the ball spun onto the post and Cech managed to kick the ball clear. Chicarito was not inside our net having missed the ball. The ball came out wide to Rafael and just as Chelsea got back into position, Chicarito came out of the goal from behind the line, behind Petr Cech and a yard offside and tapped the ball into the net to make it 2-3.
The goal was offside without question but was given. It was hard on Chelsea as we had the momentum before the sendings off and even looked comfortable with nine men.
It was up to a point, a great game of football played out by two top, top teams. It just a shame that we came away from this one feeling robbed!
“The key decisions from the referee today probably influenced the result. He sent off Fernando Torres and the third goal is offside and that clearly has decided the game for our opposition tonight. He’s (Torres) put the ball between his legs and he’s through and he gets kicked on his shin and he goes down. It’s as simple as that. It’s a free-kick for us. It might even be a sending-off for Evans because he’s through on goal. I was shocked. I thought it was going to be a free-kick for us, and a foul for us, not against us. He added of Hernandez’s goal: “I watched it again and the replay shows when Rafael shoots he’s in an offside position.”
Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo has admitted that the European champions could lose Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard if the club are unable to agree new contracts with them.
Asked if he was worried about the pair leaving in the New Year, Di Matteo said:“Yeah, but that’s the world of football. That’s how you live in this world, in this industry. We had the same last season with some players and, at the end of the day, we all have to be professional and try to do our best, even though maybe the contract is not sorted out.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea club spokesman said: “We have lodged a complaint to the Premier League match delegate with regards to inappropriate language used by the referee and directed at two of our players in two separate incidents in today’s match. “The match delegate will pass the complaint to the Football Association. We will make no further comment at this time. Clattenburg last night vowed to co-operate with any investigation. Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO), the body which represents Premier League referees, released a statement which read: “PGMO is aware of the allegations and they are being treated with the utmost seriousness. “Mark will co-operate fully and welcomes the opportunity for the facts to be established. No further comment will be made until this matter has been properly investigated. All four officials – the referee, his two assistants and the fourth official – wear microphones and ear pieces that allow them to hear what each other is saying throughout the match. What is said between them is not recorded.”
- Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United: Match report, pictures and video highlights (thesun.co.uk)
- Chelsea 2 – 3 Manchester United: Nine-man Chelsea raging as United close gap (scotsman.com)
- National Sport: United down nine-man Blues (coventrytelegraph.net)
- Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United: Nine-man Blues lose out to United (standard.co.uk)
- Offshore drilling, England: Manchester United 3, at Chelsea 2 (prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com)