CHELSEA 2, MAN UNITED 3
Manchester United’s first victory at Chelsea was certainly a dramatic battle of the top two in the Barclays Premier League.
Chelsea finished with nine men as referee Mark Clattenburg found himself caught up in controversy at Stamford Bridge.
There were accusations later from Chelsea that Mr Clattenburg used “inappropriate” words to a couple of their players.
In the cauldron of battle, it was United who kept their cool and nerve to record a massively important victory in what was the proverbial six-pointer.
Had Chelsea triumphed they would have opened a seven-point advantage over the Reds, a massive deficit to wipe out, even at this early stage of the campaign.
The margin is a slender one and, with only one point separating Chelsea, United and City, the title race looks set to be a compelling one.
There was no John Terry and Frank Lampard in the Chelsea line up while United were unchanged from the team which kicked off against Tottenham in their last league game.
United, who had fallen behind in eight of their 12 games, certainly weren’t slow out of the blocks at Stamford Bridge where they established a two-goal advantage inside 12 minutes.
There was an element of good fortune about United’s third minute opener as Robin van Persie’s shot struck the upright and rebounded into the net off the hapless Brazilian defender David Luiz.
Dutchman Van Persie was unstoppable and he doubled United’s advantage with a sweetly-struck shot from an Antonio Valencia cross.
If United thought they already had victory secured they were mistaken as Chelsea produced a stirring fightback.
Jonny Evans diverted a John Obi Mikel cross on to his own upright as he slid in to make a clearance while David de Gea produced important saves with his legs to keep out Luiz’s free kick and Gary Cahill’s header.
United’s defence was finally breached in the 44th minute after Wayne Rooney conceded a free kick on the edge of his own box. He was booked and was punished further as Juan Mata curled a peach of a free kick over the defensive wall and beyond the grasp of de Gea.
It was the lifeline Chelsea needed on the stroke of half time.
Chelsea’s equaliser early in the second half was made in Brazil as Oscar crossed for Ramires to head home.
De Gea made another great save with his legs to deny Eden Hazard before Chelsea were reduced to 10 men when Branislav Ivanovic was dismissed for bringing down Ashley Young who was clean through on goal.
Ten became nine as Torres picked up a second yellow card for a dive, though television replays proved he was caught by Evans.
And to add insult to injury, Chelsea claimed Javier Hernandez was offside when he scored United’s 75th minute winner.
Van Persie’s initial shot was superbly turned on to the upright by Petr Cech. Rafael drove the loose ball back toward s goal and it was turned in by the Mexican.