Manchester United claimed a memorable 3-2 Premier League victory over the current Champions of Europe at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, a result that they had failed to achieve in 10 years against Chelsea in their own back yard.
What a spectacular advertisement this was for the English Premier League, it was clear from the start that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had a game plan that involved attacking the Chelsea back line who were missing influential captain John Terry through suspension, the plan was to use United’s width where Ashley Young made a surprise start that has further cast doubt over Nani's Old Trafford future.
United's defensive frailties left them little option but to use attack as their best form of defence as they quickly found their rhythm and set out to dictate the passage and pace of the game early on.
Robin van Persie was labelled United’s danger man before kick off, ex Manchester United player Gary Neville said that United handed over £24million for van Persie for games like this, the big games, the games that really matter, the Dutchman paid back a small chunk of that fee with a breathtaking overall performance, he is the reason United claimed 3 points as Chelsea failed to get to grips with him.
After testing Petr Cech early on van Persie had a big say in United’s first goal in the 4th minute as his thunderous shot smashed against the post rebounding into the net off a helpless David Luiz.
United continued to threaten the Chelsea goal and were rewarded as they scored a second goal, a wonderful drilled cross from Antonio Valencia found van Persie who's first time connection left Cech with no chance and picking the ball out of the net for the second time in the first 12 minutes of this epic match.
As the first half minutes ticked away Chelsea slowly gained the upper hand and you could sense that it was only a matter of time before they got back into this game, United were desperately trying to hold onto their two goal advantage and see it out until the break.
Juan Mata had different ideas, a cheap foul by Wayne Rooney presented the Spaniard with a free kick centrally just outside the United area, Mata did not waste the opportunity scoring a magnificent goal that ended the half with Chelsea 2-1 down but with their tails up.
Chelsea thoroughly deserved their equaliser early in the second half as Ramires headed home to draw level, it looked like United’s early hard work was about to be punished as they struggled to get to grips with Chelsea's early second half wave of attacks.
Up front van Persie started to influence the game pulling the Chelsea defenders all over the Stamford Bridge pitch leaving gaps for his teammates to exploit, this was evident in the 63rd minute when his hold up play and vision played in Ashley Young who was in one on one with Cech until Branislav Ivanovic brought him down rightfully receiving his marching orders in the process by referee Mark Clattenburg.
In the 69th minute the real controversy unravelled as Chelsea striker Fernando Torres received his marching orders for simulation following a challenge from Jonny Evans, the Irish man did seem to make contact and the majority of spectators both in the stadium and watching on TV must have been expecting the yellow card to be shown to the United player.
However to the amazement and disbelief of the Chelsea supporters the card was shown to the Spaniard and Torres left Chelsea trying to hold on playing out the game with 9 men, advantage United.
This was a game of end to end football as both teams traded blow after blow like two heavy weight boxers, United landed the fatal blow in the 75th minute when super sub Javier Hernandez scored following a saved van Persie shot that Rafael drilled back into the danger area for the Mexican to tap in, replays showed Hernandez was offside when the ball was played but United will not have a complaint about it after being on the receiving end of some bad decisions against Chelsea themselves in the past.
Its difficult to sum up how huge a result this could be for Manchester United, it could prove to be important when it comes to deciding what colour ribbons will be tied around the handles of the Premier League trophy next May, its still early days as far as the title race is concerned but this was a huge win as many expect Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs to be battling it out this season for England's top honour.
By Kevin Ashford @KevinAshford7