By Lee Savery
Manchester United finally ended their Stamford Bridge hoodoo as they claimed victory in a controversial encounter in the capital.
United came to Stamford Bridge looking for their first win there since 2002 and they made the most blistering of starts in ending that record.
After just three minutes, Ashley Young found some space in front of the Chelsea defence before laying it off to Wayne Rooney on the right before crossing it to Robin van Persie whose shot cannoned off the post before ricocheting off Chelsea David Luiz and into the net.
It was a terrific start and it would get even better for the away side on 12 minutes. A break down the right found Antonio Valencia on the right edge of the box who then found van Persie with a precise cross who passed the ball into the net with his right-foot. Stamford Bridge was shell shocked while the away section were elated.
However, Chelsea dug deep and were able to get back at United. David de Gea had to make top saves from a David Luiz free-kick and a Fernando Torres header. The Red Devils also had the post to thank as a John Obi Mikel cross hit off Jonny Evans before hitting the outside of the near post.
The Blues were gifted a chance back into the game when Rooney’s cynical foul on Eden Hazard, just outside the box, presented Juan Mata who finished the free-kick with aplomb to put Chelsea on the score sheet.
The momentum was fully with Chelsea and Mata almost equalised with the last chance of the first half but de Gea saved smartly. However, they were to draw level and deservedly so.
Oscar’s long ball into the box was met by Mata whose cross was met by Oscar who then crossed for Ramires to head the ball past de Gea. Eight minutes into the second half Chelsea were on top and it seemed the match would only go one way.
However, two red cards in six crazy second-half minutes changed the game completely. Firstly, Branislav Ivanovic was correctly red-carded for bringing down Ashley Young as he was played through on goal on 63 minutes. He was the last man and the referee, Mark Clattenburg, had no choice.
Six minutes later, Fernando Torres was adjudged to have dived when he skipped past Evans as he tried to run through on goal. Replays have shown there might have been slight contact from Evans despite Torres going down very easily. It was his second yellow card after picking one up in the first half and it left Chelsea down to 9 men with over 20 minutes to go.
United were now back on top and finally made the numerical advantage count with a goal surrounded by controversy. Van Persie’s shot was saved by Petr Cech before being cleared off the line by his defenders but it fell to Rafael whose drilled cross found Hernandez to tap into the empty net. Replays have since shown, however, he was offside.
The away side saw out the victory as a tirade of boos aimed towards referee Clattenburg at full time. It was a crazy end to a game that was seemingly going Chelsea’s way. United will be happy though to have finally ended their poor record in the league at Stamford Bridge. The luck that evaded them in past visits was certainly on their side in this encounter.
The teams will do it all again on Wednesday night, in the Capital One Cup.
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