A stoppage time equaliser from Robin van Persie prevented Chelsea from opening up a six point gap at the top of the Premier League table. The Blues took the lead in the second half through Didier Drogba, but after a solid defensive display they saw Branislav Ivanovic sent off, which gave United a free kick and allowed Van Persie the space to equalise.
The Blues were again without Diego Costa, despite Mourinho saying he had a small chance of playing, the Spaniard didn’t even make the bench. Loic Remy was also out after the injury he suffered in the Champions League in midweek, so Didier Drogba made his first Premier League start since returning to the club in the summer. Thibaut Courtois came back in for Petr Cech in goal, while Gary Cahill returned to the side after being rested in midweek.
The first half was a cagey affair, with United slightly edging it. Courtois had to be at his best to deny the home side on a few occasions. The Blues could have had a penalty in the first half, when not one, but two Chelsea players seemed to be fouled from a corner. Marcus Rojo and Chris Smalling looked to have John Terry and Ivanovic in a headlock, which looked more of a foul than the controversial one given against Ryan Shawcross last week.
The game was brighter in the second half, and Chelsea opened the scoring just eight minutes in. Chelsea got a corner after Eden Hazard was denied by David De Gea after a good passing move. Fabregas swung the corner in, and Drogba lost his marker Rafael and produced a header that was akin to his famous equaliser in the 2012 Champions League final.
The Blues dropped deeper after that goal, and John Obi Mikel replacing Oscar signalled how Chelsea intended to finish the game. United had the lion’s share of the possession but they didn’t have too many clear chances. The Blues looked to shut up shop when they brought on Kurt Zouma for Willian, but just seconds later Ivanovic received a second yellow card. Both of the cards were harsh, something about which Jose Mourinho was clearly angry after the game.
That gave United a wide free kick, which was put in by Di Maria and caused problems in the Chelsea box. The ball dropped to Van Persie, and he lashed the ball home past a helpless Courtois, costing Chelsea two points.
After the game, Jose Mourinho praised his side, but he refused to discuss Ivanovic’s red card to avoid getting in trouble. “The second half was much better. From the start of the first half we showed we wanted to win. In the second half we didn’t give them chances they wanted. To come here to Old Trafford the way we did – it was fantastic to my boys.
“The red card, I was seeing it coming. If I have to speak about the second yellow I have to speak about lots of things; the penalty that Ivanovic should have been given, the accumulation of yellow cards, the throw-ins. I know I speak always with my heart and get in trouble.”
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