Manchester United gave Chelsea their first defeat of the season today after beating them 3-2 at Stamford Bridge in a game that was full of controversy. The win sees Man United go within a point of Chelsea at the top of the table.
The away side started brightly and were rewarded with two early goals thanks to some awful defending by Chelsea. The first goal came in the fourth minute when a Robin Van Persie shot fired off the crossbar and hit the back of David Luiz and then rolled into the empty net. Just eight minutes later, United doubled their lead after Van Persie turned home a Antonio Valencia cross. This was not the start that Chelsea wanted at all and the defensive issues will be a problem for Robert Di Matteo because for the first 20 minutes, they didn’t look like they had ever played together before.
After Man United stormed to a 2-0 lead, they seemed to lose grip of the game and the tide started to turn as the home side finally got going and looked a lot more promising. Despite having over 60% possession in the first half, Chelsea just couldn’t get themselves back in the game. The main reason for that was United’s goalkeeper, David De Gea. He had to make several top class saves all throughout the match, but he was finally beaten just before half-time thanks to a Juan Mata free-kick from just outside the box. Wayne Rooney will hold most of the blame for the goal as he needlessly took out Eden Hazard.
Chelsea started the second half just as they ended the first, on the front foot. The comeback was finally completed after Oscar picked out Ramires with a superb cross which saw the centre midfield man bullet the ball past the United goalkeeper. The game was back all square ate 2-2 with Chelsea on the front foot.
After the comeback was complete, that is when the controvery started. The first incident was when referee, Mark Clattenburg, sent off Chelsea defender, Branislav Ivanovic in the 62nd minute. The Serbian defender was penalised for pulling back Ashley Young once he was released one-on-one with Petr Cech. It was a clear red card as Ivanovic was the last man and Young was through on goal and in a goal scoring position.
Just six minutes later, the red card was out again, and this time, it was controversial. Fernando Torres was running through the United back four and then seemingly was wiped out by Johnny Evans. The ref blew his whistle and showed a yellow card, which most people thought was going to Evans, however, following the yellow card, was a red card and Torres was sent walking down the tunnel. Clattenburg deemed Torres to have dived and showed him a second yellow card. The replays show there was contact in the tackle and the red card was very harsh on Chelsea.
With the home side down to nine men, their main aim was to just try and hold on to the draw, but they couldn’t do this. In the 74th minute, Javier Hernandez, turned home a Rafael shot and sent the away fans intoo raptures. The Mexican had only been on the pitch for ten minutes, but he had done enough to give Manchester United all three points. From the replay of the goal, it was clear to see that Hernandez was standing in an offside position when he turned home Rafael’s shot. More controversy from a referee’s decision and another call that went against the home side.
As the final whistle went, boos rang around the stadium, seemingly aimed at the referees after their poor performance. Chelsea fans also started singing: ‘You’re not fit to referee’, so it was clear that they were not happy with their decisions and they have a reason to feel hard done by.
Manchester United defender, Johnny Evans, spoke after the game about the match and also about the Fernando Torres sending off:
“It’s the hardest game we’ve had this season and we were probably lucky to see it 2-1 at half-time. You have to show character in games like this – it’s a tough game.
“At the time I didn’t feel like I’d made contact. I’ve seen it again and there was contact, but not enough to bring him down. I think the referee has made the right decision to send him off.”
Javier Hernandez also spoke about his goal and whether he thought it was offside or not:
“Probably,” he says when asked if he was offside. “It’s a habit I have to look to linesman. It was a difficult game but we were lucky that we scored the last goal.”
The Manchester boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, believes all decisions were correct and is happy with the way his team performed:
“The decision the referee has to make is whether the striker has chosen to go down. He was through on goal – I don’t know why he has gone down. I think it’s his own fault.
“It’s been 10 years since we have won down here. We had a good record until Jose [Mourinho] came along and spoiled the party.
“We’ve never got breaks down here and had some terrible decisions against us in the last few years. But today we have got a little break for the goal – Chicharito may have been offside.”
However, the Chelsea boss, Roberto Di Matteo, was not happy, as you would expect:
“The referee’s decisions influenced the result. The sending-off of Fernando Torres and the third goal is offside so that clearly has decided the game for our opposition tonight.
“Torres put the ball between his legs and he’s through. He gets kicked on his shin and he’s down. I was shocked.
“I thought it was going to be a free-kick for us and a foul for us, not against us. Everything went for United in that sense and that really makes us unhappy.
“The referee is probably going to watch it again and realise he made mistakes. But that is not going to change the result today.”
Alex William Batt