Blues pegged back by Red Devils
Written By: Robert Halter
Chelsea sat twelve points adrift of Manchester United ahead of the Blues Sunday showdown with the Reds Devils but Man U’s last Premier League win at Stamford Bridge dated back to season 2001/02 although a decade on, United had the best away record in the division as they looked to test the Blues resolve. On ten minutes, the Red Devils had claims for a penalty turned away after Blues debutant Gary Cahill challenged Danny Welbeck in the area. A saving tackle by Branislav Ivanovic prevented Welbeck moving in on goal, after Wayne Rooney had instigated a move for United on twenty eight minutes. But it was Chelsea that went ahead against the run of play on thirty five minutes, when Daniel Sturridge cut in from the right byline and as the ball deflected off David De Gea, he had the misfortune of seeing the rebound deflect off his own defender Jonny Evans into the back of the net. Sturridge caused further havoc for the Red Devils a minute later, when his long range drive was kept out by De Gea’s full length save. United struck back on thirty eight minutes, when Ashley Young’s delightful shot was clawed away by Petr Cech from his right hand post. Then two minutes later, Welbeck pounced in the penalty area and a strong block by Cech was required to keep the ball out. On the stroke of half time, Cech was at full stretch to keep out Rooney’s effort from a Ryan Giggs free kick, who in turn had been fouled by Juan Mata. It was a magnificent start to the second half for Chelsea as within thirty seconds of the re-start, the Blues doubled their advantage when a floating cross by Fernando Torres on the right side was met on the volley from Mata, whose phenomenal strike ripped the back of the net. It got tougher for the Red Devils on fifty minutes, when Patrice Evra brought down Sturridge and from Mata’s free kick, David Luiz produced a bullet header that deflected off Rio Ferdinand’s shoulder into the top right corner to give the Blues a three goals cushion. However, United were given a route back into the match on fifty seven minutes as referee Howard Webb penalised Sturridge’s challenge on Evra in the area. Rooney despatched the spot kick by hammering the ball into the top left corner. On sixty nine minutes, the Red Devils were awarded another penalty in questionable circumstances, after Ivanovic was punished for his challenge on Welbeck and again Rooney made no mistake by putting his spot kick into the right side of the goal, sending Cech the wrong way for a second time. A neat touch by Torres set up Michael Essien for a fierce strike on seventy five minutes but De Gea parried the ball over. The fight back was complete on eighty four minutes, as Cech failed to hold onto a Rooney effort and as the ball fell to Giggs on the left side of the area, his perfectly measured cross was headed in by Javier Hernandez as Cech was helpless to prevent a United third. A gret save by De Gea kept out Mata’s curling free kick in added time, after a Paul Scholes foul on Luiz. Then De Gea produced further heroics to keep out Cahill’s dipping shot at the end to signal the conclusion of an epic three all thriller.