Chelsea 5 - 4 Man U AET - Match Report
Eden Hazard scored an injury time equaliser for the Blues to take the tie to extra time after a David Luiz penalty and a Gary Cahill header brought the home side level twice after goals from Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez and Nani had put United ahead.
Daniel Sturridge put Chelsea ahead for the first time with a cool finish before Ramires scored a fifth for the hosts. Giggs converted a late penalty but Di Matteo’s men held on for a fantastic win.
After such a bitter contest on Sunday, these two teams needed to go out and prove that the game is still beautiful and contest it in the right manner. This game provided the perfect tonic and had fans on the edge of their seat for two hours.
It started badly for Chelsea however, Oriol Romeu was caught in possession on the edge of his own penalty area which allowed Ryan Giggs to calmly stroke the ball past Petr Cech. However, the hosts did not let their head drop and were soon level after Alex Buttner brought down the electrifying Victor Moses in the United penalty area. David Luiz stepped up to fire past Anders Lindegaard and level the tie.
United fought back though and regained the lead when Javier Hernandez (this time) beat the offside trap to fire past Cech. Gary Cahill, not to be outdone by his defensive compatriot, then levelled the tie once more with a thumping header just after half time that Rafael almost cleared, but replays showed the ball crossed the line by a good few yards after leaving Cahill’s forehead.
Nani put the visitors ahead for the third time when he dinked the ball over the advancing Cech to put United firmly in the driving seat going into the final ten minutes.
Di Matteo had thrown on Hazard, Oscar and Ramires to give his side a greater attacking edge and his decision proved to be a clever one for Chelsea. The reuniting of ‘Mazacar’, as they’ve now been dubbed, gave Chelsea the freedom up front they needed to push United all the way to the final whistle.
And in the final minute of regulation time they got their reward. Young United defender Scott Wooton’s tired and clumsy challenge in the box sent Ramires flying, allowing Hazard to step up confidently and effortlessly roll the ball past Lindegaard to take the tie to extra time. Que pandemonium at the Bridge.
As the visitors young side began to tire, Chelsea’s front four took extra time by the scruff of the neck and set about going ahead for the first time in the night. They did just that on 97 mins when Scott Wooton, who had a night to forget, got his headed back pass all wrong, diverting it into the path of Daniel Sturridge who raced through on goal, and round Lindegaard to poke into an empty net.
The hosts were always capable of scoring more and almost did that when David Luiz nearly scored his second set piece of the night. The Brazilian crashed a thunderous free kick against the crossbar which had Lindegaard beaten.
However it did become 5-3 in the second period, the tireless Hazard again involved, he carved open the United defence with his pace and precision before laying off a delightful pass to Ramires who also rounded the keeper and tap in.
There was still time however for one final twist as Cesar Azpilicueta’s clumsy challenge on Hernandez gave United a lifeline, Giggs scored the resultant penalty but the Blues hung on for a famous victory.
They go on to face Leeds at Elland Road in the next round, where a place in the semi finals is up for grabs.
Doesn’t that feel good? Wow. What a game. And to come out of it victorious over Utd especially after Sunday feels incredible.
It just demonstrates this teams never say die attitude even after going behind three times and having another stonewall penalty turned down. I thought the introduction of Oscar, Hazard and Ramires completely changed the game. They were exceptional, Utd couldn’t deal with them and didn’t have an answer for their threats.
Victor Moses as well, had a terrific game. It’s almost a shame that Mazacar are playing so well at the moment as the Nigerian isn’t getting much of a look in but I’m sure his time will come. Moses put in a fantastic performance tonight, his pace and power was unplayable and he looked dangerous whenever he came forward. There is a lot to come from this young man.
Also, Danny Sturridge had a good game in parts but there is still room for improvement. He is noticeably hungrier than Torres, and looks keen to chase down every ball and run with pace at defenders and most importantly isn’t afraid to take a shot on, something that Torres lacks. He sometimes gets questioned on his ability to lift his head and pick out a pass but I would rather he had a shot on goal than lose possession by trying to find a pass. He drifted out wide a lot when he should have been upfront, but on the whole I thought he had a good night.
Our defence raises a lot of questions however. Luiz again seemed to think at times he was playing at left midfield, left back and even as a striker. Just stay back David! Anyone else want to chip in for some handcuffs for him so we can lock him to Cahill or Terry so he gets his positioning right? He was all over the place at times and his long balls are suicidal. Good pen but needs to get the basics right.
Cesar Azplicueta as well, I worry about this chap. On the surface he looks good. But, I hate to say it, I think he may have graduated from the Jose Bosingwa school of defending. He loves to get forward and help out with the attack and looks as though he has a goal or two in him. But he leaves so much space in behind him, you could host a music festival there. I think he will still be getting to grips with the English game at the moment so we’ll have to give him time.
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