Chelsea suffer Man United comeback in six-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United
Manchester United came back from three goals down to draw 3-3 with Chelsea on Sunday afternoon at Stamford Bridge.
A Jonny Evans own goal and two quick-fire goals in the second-half from Juan Mata and David Luiz seemed like they were going to give the Blues all three points and dent Sir Alex Ferguson’s title ambitions.
However, two Wayne Rooney penalties brought the Red Devils back into the game, before Javier Hernandez headed home a dramatic equaliser for the Champions.
For Chelsea, it is a matter of ‘what if’, as they dropped two points from a winnable position whilst their rivals, Newcastle and Arsenal, both had victories this weekend.
Andre Villas Boas opted to play talisman Mata in a more central role behind striker Fernando Torres, with Gary Cahill coming into their defence and giving them another attacking option through set pieces. United recalled Wayne Rooney to the starting line-up, as well as welcoming Ashley Young back onto the wing.
Despite with the attacking qualities that both sides possessed, however, the opening minutes of the game were dominated by penalty claims, rather then clear-cut chances.
English duo, Young and Danny Welbeck, both felt they were fouled in the penalty area; however, in a feisty game, referee Howard Webb waved away both shouts.
It was indeed the visitors who looked more comfortable in attack, with Rio Ferdinand and company untroubled. However, on 36 minutes, the hosts took the lead in fortuitous fashion.
Daniel Sturridge, a constant threat down the Blues right, eased his way past left-back Patrice Evra, his cross being eventually diverted into the goal by an unfortunate Evans.
United must have felt hard done by at half-time; however, it was less than 30 seconds before they found themselves in an even worse situation.
Heavily-criticised Fernando Torres found himself on the right and his deep cross smashed home a sumptuous volley that gave David De Gea no chance.
After just a further four minutes Chelsea found themselves 3-0 up, when David Luiz’s header deflected off Rio Ferdinand and Stamford Bridge rocked with euphoria.
Nonetheless, United always posed a threat, and the Chelsea defence crumbled twice within eleven minutes and gave away two penalties, thus giving Ferguson’s men the belief they needed.
Fouls by Daniel Sturridge and Branislav Ivanovic twice gave Rooney a chance from 12 yards, and his two confident penalties suddenly changed the tide of the game.
The visitors always seemed favourites to score the sixth of the game, and Javier Hernandez found himself in enough space to rise and head in Ryan Giggs’ cross with six minutes to go.
There was still time for United’s under-fire goalkeeper, De Gea, to produce a moment of magic deep into injury time when he saved a majestic free kick from Spaniard Mata.
Manchester United’s record at Stamford Bridge hadn’t been great in recent years, and a win was overdue. However, coming back from three goals down will no doubt feel like a victory for Alex Ferguson.