CHELSEA 5, MAN UNITED 4 (after extra time)
Two unfortunate mistakes from young defender Scott Wootton provided a Halloween horror show for Manchester Unitedl as they lost a Capital One Cup, fourth-round tie at Chelsea which will live long in the memory.
Wootton conceded the penalty after three minutes of stoppage time which enabled Eden Hazard to take the compelling cup clash to extra time.
The ghosts returned in the additional 30 minutes as Wootton’s weak header back to Lindegaard was intercepted by Daniel Sturridge who slotted home the matchwinning goal.
And Sir Alex Ferguson was left fuming, not because of Wootton’s two gaffes, but because of Nani losing possession in the dying seconds.
The Reds’ manager said his side had thrown away victory when, 3-2 ahead, Nani needlessly gave away the ball when he ought to have kept hold near the corner flag.
United had earlier taken the lead three times only for Chelsea to hit back each time in a game which had dramatic twists from start to finish.
It was very much an United second string as Rafael da Silva was the only one of the 18 players on duty at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when United triumphed 3-2.
Chelsea were clearly taking the match more serious as they had five of Sunday’s starters in their line up from kick off with big-hitters Ramires, Oscar and Eden Hazard as back up on the bench.
United, however, made the livelier start as Nani and Danny Welbeck fired shots straight at Petr Cech while Alexander Buttner’s free kick whistled just wide of the upright.
And it was from the deadball following Buttner’s free kick that United took the lead. Cech played the ball short to Oriel Romeu who was dispossessed by Giggs just outside the box and the veteran winger curled in a delightful low shot.
Chelsea levelled the scores in the 31st minute after Buttner brought down Victor Moses as he burst into the box and David Luiz scored from the spot.
United regained the lead shortly before half time after another terrible defensive error from Chelsea as this time Luiz was caught breaking out of defence
Rafael made the decisive tackle before Anderson broke and released Javier Hernandez who finished with deadly precision.
Chelsea made it 2-2 in the 52nd minute when Gary Cahill headed home Juan Mata’s corner. Rafael headed a clearance, but the ball had clearly crossed the line.
United took the lead for the third time just short of the hour when Hernandez and Anderson linked to set up Nani who ghosted through the Chelsea defence before coolly lifting the ball over the advancing Cech.
And not long after Hernandez had a great chance to add a fourth goal, but shot over when well placed.
United lived dangerously as Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta headed just over while there were claims for a penalty when Mata’s shot struck Will Keane. Referee Lee Mason probably got it right as the young defender was stood only about one yards away from the Spaniard and had no chance to take evasive action.
Mata’s free kick dipped just over and then Oscar’s stinging drive was beaten out by keeper Anders Lindegaard.
Chelsea could not have left it any later before equalising for a third time as the three minutes of extra time had elapsed.
Wootton barged into Ramirez from behind and Hazard sent Lindegaard the wrong way from the spot.
The night became a whole lot worse for Wootton in extra time when his blunder allowed Sturridge to seal a remarkable victory for Chelsea.
United might have conceded further goals as Cahill glanced a header just wide, Luiz crashed a free kick against the crossbar, Sturridge’s drive dipped just over the crossbar and Moses was denied by a super save from Lindegaard.
Chelsea made absolutely sure of victory in the 116th minute when they finally scored a fifth goal, Mata releasing Ramires who danced clear and rounded Lindegaard to score.
But there was one further twist as United were awarded a 119th minute penalty which Ryan Giggs slotted home to reduce the deficit to 5-4.