Red Devils defeat Chelsea
Written By: Robert Halter
The Premier League’s two top teams collided in a Sunday showdown at Stamford Bridge towards the end of October as table toppers Chelsea faced second placed Manchester United but the Red Devils were brimming with confidence on the back of four straight wins, two of them away but the Blues had not lost at home to United in the Premiership since April 2002. Michael Carrick’s ball through to Robin Van Persie tested Petr Cech for the first time on two minutes but Cech had no answer within a minute as from Wayne Rooney’s low cross, Van Persie’s strike cannoned off the right post and rebounded on to David Luiz into the net as the Blues defender had the miss fortune of scoring an own goal to gift the Reds Devils an early lead. On eleven minutes, United increased their advantage as Rafael set up Antonio Valencia down the right flank, whose ball into the penalty box was turned into the left side of the goal with a lethal finish from Van Persie. Midway through the first half, Carrick’s foul on Ramires gave Luiz a chance to fire in a free kick that was forced away by David de Gea’s outstretched foot. In the thirty fourth minute, John Obi Mikel drove the ball in and Jonny Evans was close to scoring in his own net as he deflected the ball against the right post. From the resulting corner by Juan Mata, a soaring header from Gary Cahill brought an instinctive save by De Gea to prevent the Blues from scoring. In the forty first minute, a bullet header by Fernando Torres from Mata’s cross, produced a theatrical one handed save by De Gea to protect United’s lead. But the Blues found a way back into the game two minutes later, after Rooney pulled down Eden Hazard and from the free kick, Mata curled the ball around the wall to find a way through De Gea’s near post and reduce the margin to 2-1. Mata could have levelled the score as he raced clean through from Torres’s pass but De Gea’s double footed block kept the ball out, just before the break. Although seven minutes into the second half, the Blues were back to all square as Mata worked the ball back from the right by line and a failed clearance by Rio Ferdinand fell to Oscar, who floated the ball over and Ramires’s header sailed past De Gea into the heart of the goal. A minute later, Chelsea surged forward again and a low strike by Hazard was kept out from the foot of the post with De Gea’s out stretched leg. But it was backs to the wall for the Blues in the sixty second minute as Branislav Ivanovic received a straight red card from referee Mark Clattenburg for clipping Ashely Young as he ran through on goal but Chelsea had a slight reprieve as Rooney put the free kick over the bar. Chelsea were reduced to nine men, five minutes later as Clattenburg sent Torres off after adjudging the Blues striker had taken a dive when tumbling over from an Evans challenge which was a second yellow card for Torres having been booked for a clash with Tom Cleverley end of the first half. The inevitable happened on seventy four minutes when Van Persie’s shot was deflected on to the right post by Cech and as the Chelsea keeper scrambled the ball away, it found Rafael, who set up Javier Hernandez and he applied the easiest of finishes from close range. Valencia spurned a chance to add a fourth in stoppage time as Hernandez set him free but by this time the priceless three points were on the way back to Manchester as the Red Devils 3-2 victory reduced the deficit to a point between themselves and Chelsea in the table.