Chelsea 3-3 Man United: Chelsea pay the penalty in 6-goal thriller

By on February 6, 2012

Chelsea surrendered a 3-goal lead in their clash with Manchester United, conceding two penalties as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side came from behind to draw 3-3.

Chelsea took a first-half lead through a Johnny Evans own-goal when Daniel Sturridge did well to cut-back from the by-line. The Blues then doubled their lead just a minute into the second half when Juan Mata volleyed home a deep Fernando Torres cross and David Luiz looked to have put the game beyond doubt when he headed in from close range.

But United rallied superbly and were full value for the manner of their comeback, despite suggestions that the officials made it easy for Ferguson’s side. Wayne Rooney twice scored from the spot as Sturridge and Branislav Ivanovich were judged to have committed fouls inside the area. The incredible comeback was complete when Javier Hernandez leaped between a static Chelsea defence to head past Petr Cech. David De Gea, so often the villain for Man Utd fans this season, was the hero right at the death as two sublime finger tip saves denied Chelsea late on.

Whilst Man Utd went into this game trailing by three points to neighbours Manchester City in the Premier League title race, Chelsea lay 12 points adrift of the Red Devils. In fourth place and facing the reality that the league title is out of reach for this year, Chelsea were looking to consolidate their position in the race for a Champions League spot, and looked to close the gap on third placed Tottenham Hotspur.

It was the visitors who started in the ascendancy in West London, the returning Ashley Young causing problems in and around the Chelsea box. The winger jinked past one man before appearing to stumble and relieve possession but the United man reclaimed the ball just in time to go to ground from the attentions of Jose Bosingwa. It was to be the first of a series of penalty claims from the visitors and Howard Webb looked to have got this one right, indicating no offence other than a handball from Young as he fell to ground.

Moments later there were stronger appeals from the United contingent as Danny Welbeck, racing onto a through ball, appeared to be caught by the sliding leg of Gary Cahill. Webb refused to succumb to the wishes of the men in red whilst replays showed contact was made, but just outside the area.

United settled quickly and were rightfully demonstrating their worth as current Premier League champions. But Chelsea took advantage of a series of hesitations by United players, as Sturridge ghosted past Evra in the box. His tight pull back from the by-line was aimed at a minefield of bodies and the unfortunate Evans was helpless as the ball hit him and deflected into his own net.

Whilst the first  goal was kind to Chelsea, at a time when the hosts were barely out of first gear, the same could not be said of the next two. Chelsea came bounding out for the second half, much as a greyhound bolts from its pen in pursuit of the rabbit. With the half barely a minute old, Torres had space to cross from the right and find international team mate Mata at the far post who thumped a delicious first time volley past the helpless De Gea. There was nothing meek about the finish, and the Spaniard’s technique served him well, executing the move to perfection.

On the 50 minute mark, Chelsea furthered their lead when defender Luiz’s header found the top corner via a slight deflection from Rio Ferdinand’s shoulder. But far from this blitz serving to stun United, the response was to dish out their own helping of out-right attack. Paul Scholes was introduced to the fray as a way of helping United take hold of possession, and his effect was almost immediate if not indirect.

The midfield veteran ensured the visitors did not mope about for the next 40 minutes, instead his willingness to be on the ball and keep possession moving inspired his team mates. A lung-busting foray from Evra into the enemy’s territory resulted in the first penalty as Sturridge clumsily stuck out a leg. Howard did not hesitate this time, pointing to the spot and allowing Rooney to score emphatically; had Cech guessed the right way, he would not have been able to stop his stinging spot kick.

United kept coming, and some intelligent play involving Scholes and Rooney found Welbeck who fell under the apparent challenge of Ivanovich. I say apparent, because on second look the Serbian clearly pulled out of his tackle whilst Welbeck sensing the defender’s lunge stuck out an inviting leg which found that of Ivanovich. Despite the Chelsea player’s protests, Rooney again finished superbly from 12-yards this time hitting the opposite corner to that of his first kick.

Chelsea, frustrated and wounded then went into self-destruct mode, which we have seen far too often this season. Feeling hard done by is one thing, but there is no excuse for the slack manner in which they defended for United’s equaliser. The ball, only half cleared was picked up by Giggs who had time to steady himself before picking out Hernandez who needed only to stand between Cahill and Luiz as he headed the equaliser.

With six minutes remaining, Chelsea sensed enough time to regain their lead and nearly did so when Mata’s spectacular free-kick was met by an equally impressive finger tip save from De Gea (Watch the save here). Cahill also tried his luck from distance in the dying moments, with De Gea again proving a match as he tipped the shot over the bar.

See player ratings from the game here

Watch video highlights from Chelsea 3 – 3 Man Utd

 

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One Comment

  1. John taidi

    February 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Wot a brilliant com bk by d red devil.

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