Chelsea claim revenge over Manchester United in a nine-goal thriller
It was redemption for Chelsea, as clueless defending from Manchester United saw them crash to a 5-4 defeat at the scene of their weekend victory. After a game which produced a rare bright performance from Anderson, United will need to have a re-look at their defensive resources, which have been considerably depleted due to injury. Chelsea, on the other hand, would most certainly have left the stadium in much better spirits, after the sour taste the weekend might have left on their tongues. They will also most certainly be thankful that Roman Abramovich managed to lure Hazard to London when he seemed all set for Manchester, and that, no doubt, made all the difference this night.
With an equally wary eye on both the fracas over the weekend fixture, as well as the upcoming weekend fixture against Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson sent out a completely revamped Manchester United side to the pitch at Stamford Bridge. There were 10 changes to the starting 11 from the previous weekend, with only Rafael keeping his place at right back. The League Cup certainly seems like a non-priority for Sir Alex this season, and this was further underlined by the fact that the bench had 7 players of which only 2 had played for the first team this season, Nick Powell, and Ryan Tunnicliffe. Chelsea, on the other hand, seemed more intent on winning the game, perhaps in part to compensate for their aggravating loss at the weekend. While there were 6 changes to the side that played at the weekend, Chelsea’s man of the match, Juan Mata started, with Hazard on the bench.
The start to the match was fairly uneventful, with perhaps more eyeballs focused on the referee, Lee Mason, than on the players. There were no gilt-edged chances for either teams in the first twenty minutes for either team, with Luiz shooting over and wide, while Nani and Welbeck drew reasonably comfortable saves from Cech with attempts from outside the box. It was United who were looking increasingly dangerous, however, as Buttner shot wide from a tight angle, before Ryan Giggs slid one into the bottom left corner, having received a ball from Anderson. It was a poor pass from Petr Cech that put Romeu into hot soup, with 3 United players around him, but Romeu could certainly have done better. The faces of the Chelsea fans were not a sight to behold, as they found themselves trailing to United at home, for the second time in four days. It only added to their displeasure when Mikel, already embroiled in controversy with Clattenburg over the weekend’s incidents, was shown a yellow card for a bad foul.
On the stroke of 30 minutes, however, Chelsea were awarded a penalty after Victor Moses was brought down on the edge of the box by Alexander Buttner. David Luiz stepped up to the spot, and duly dispatched the penalty low to his left to level scores, in spite of Lindegaard guessing the right way. It hadn’t been a great half for Chelsea up front, however, and Torres could be seen warming up to keep the redundant Sturridge on his toes. Chelsea, however, seemed to be in a very generous mood, and let United score again, quite comfortably. Luiz, much to the exasperation of the Blues’ supporters, drove out with the ball, only to lose it to Anderson, who threaded it through for Hernandez to slot home his second goal in four days. And this time, Chelsea only have themselves to blame as they head in one goal down at the end of a relatively sedate half.
The start of the second half saw substitutions from both managers, with Di Matteo sending on Ramires for Mikel, while Nick Powell replaced Alexander Buttner for United. Powell almost had an instant impact, shooting from the edge of the box, only for Cech to dive low, and concede a corner. However, it was Chelsea who scored from a corner in the 52nd minute, as Cahill gets his head on an in-swinger from Mata to head it over the line. While Rafael did head the ball back out, there will be no controversy this time, as the linesman correctly ruled that it had well and truly crossed the line. Di Matteo must have smelt blood with that equaliser, as he sent on sensational new signing, Eden Hazard to replace the silent Lucas Piazon.
Against the run of play, it was United who took the lead again, through Nani. Anderson, who seemed to be on song, put Nani in control, and the Portuguese winger drove through, producing a magnificent chipped finish over the advancing Cech. The scoreline from the weekend was already reproduced in just the 58th minute! Hernandez nearly got his second of the game, when the ball found him just yards from goal, only for the Mexican to shoot high, while scoring would have been easier. Chelsea soon had agonizing misses of their own to rue, as first Moses, and then Azpilicueta headed golden opportunities over Lindegaard’s crossbar. Chelsea had another major penalty claim, as a flick from Mata struck Keane’s hand, only for Lee Mason to rule that there was nothing the United youngster could have done about it. A 50-50 decision that should probably have gone Chelsea’s way, but not one that should generate as much controversy as those over the weekend.
Towards the end of the match, it was Manchester United soaking up considerable amounts of Chelsea pressure, with Lindegaard pulling off a couple of good saves. United certainly seemed more than capable of hitting back on the break though, and there was only cautious optimism from the home fans. Inexperienced defending from Wootton saw him lunge bring Hazard down in a dangerous area, only for Mata to send a free kick narrowly over. Chelsea kept the pressure up, however, with Sturridge, and Oscar forcing saves from Lindegaard. United seemed to have edged it narrowly, when there was drama. Chelsea received their second penalty of the night after Wootton brought down Ramires, and Hazard duly dispatched his penalty to level scores up, and send the match into extra time. It was sloppy defending from the youngster, and was duly punished as Hazard buried the ball into the net straight down the middle.
Extra time began with both teams realising it was now or never, and thus a flurry of attempts at both ends were made, without bearing fruit. It was Chelsea who finally took the lead for the first time this match, in the 8th minute of extra time, as Sturridge rewarded his boss’ patience with a well taken goal. Wootton was again to blame, as his indecision saw him head the ball into the path of Sturridge, for the Englishman to round Lindegaard and slot home. David Luiz nearly doubled the home team’s advantage with a free kick at the end of the first half of extra time, only to hit the cross bar, and deflect wide of goal off Lindegaard’s back. United were lucky to still have all 11 players on the pitch, as Michael Keane brought Sturridge down to deny a potential goal scoring opportunity, only to be shown a yellow.
Lindegaard was called into action yet again in the second half of extra time, as he produced a top class save to deny Moses. It was Ramires who finally put the game to bed for Chelsea, scoring their 5th goal of the night. A brilliant dummy from Hazard freed him up to pass to Ramires, who rounded Lindegaard and found the back of the net. There was yet more late drama to be had, as Hernandez was fouled by Azpilicueta in the Chelsea box to give United a penalty, which was calmly slotted home by Ryan Giggs. It was too little, too late for the Red Devils, however, as they failed to mount one of their trademark comebacks, and are now out of the running for the League Cup.
Result: Chelsea (Luiz (P) 31′, Cahill 52′, Hazard (P) 90+3′, Sturridge 98′, Ramires 116′) 5 – 4 Manchester United (Giggs 22′, (P) 120′, Hernandez 43′, Nani 59′)