Manchester United vs Chelsea: A tale of two halves
On Sunday, Manchester United played host to the FA Cup defending champions Chelsea at the “Theatre of Dreams”. Chelsea were looking to book a place in the last four, while the Red Devils were out to end their three-year drought of progressing to the next round. Chelsea fielded a strong first team with their winter signing Ba up front flanked by Mata and Moses, while Manchester United let Rooney team up with Hernandez, with Cleverley and Carrick holding central midfield.
The game started with a flurry of attacks by both sides, before it tilted in favour of the Red Devils. Chelsea looked toothless in attack and Manchester United were agile and efficient in their passing. They took the game to the Blues in the first half and it did seem like another win was on the cards for the league leaders. The defenders were to blame when Carrick’s blinder of a ball found Hernandez and the latter’s looping header found the back of the net. Manchester United had drawn first blood in the 5th minute and Chelsea hadn’t yet displayed any of their ability.
At the 10th minute mark, a free-kick saw Man Utd Rooney’s curling free kick beat everyone in the box and double United’s lead. Chelsea looked completely out of ideas, unless you call letting Ashley Cole, instead of Lampard, take a free-kick from 25 yards an idea. David de Gea and Evans were teaming up brilliantly and the defender showed nerves of steel in and around the six-yard box.
Right after the break, the Chelsea gaffer made the change which swung the match in favour of the Blues. Many termed the substitution ‘unacceptable’, but it proved to be a master-stroke by Rafa Benitez. At the hour mark, Eden Hazard - the former Lille star who came in for 35 million pounds – equalized with a brilliant shot after waiting for what seemed like an eternity and a half. The winger displayed amazing degrees of resilience and never seemed to run out of breath even after his multiple forays into the attacking third.
A quick counter on the 68th min saw the Brazilian Ramires slotting the ball past the outstretched de Gea and Chelsea had come back after what had seemed like an eternity. The Blues weren’t going to give up now and their exhilarating levels of perseverance would have paid dividends if not for de Gea. The Spanish international pulled out a magnificent left-footed save to deny Juan Mata a goal which surely would have been the winner in the 89th minute. Chelsea fans were the happier of the two sets of fans, as their team had completed an incredible comeback, after having gone two down in the first fifteen minutes of the match, to set-up a replay at Stamford Bridge. There is a long way to go before the two teams square off against each other, as the fixture list is congested. But one thing’s for sure, it’s not over until it’s over.