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  • 1 March 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Stamford Bridge, London
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 41825
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Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United: First goal for David Luiz & controversial Lampard penalty seal comeback after Rooney opener

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United: First goal for David Luiz & controversial Lampard penalty seal comeback after Rooney opener

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Vidic received late red card to cap disastrous second half

A first Chelsea goal from David Luiz ensured that Carlo Ancelotti's side still have a slim hope of retaining the Premier League title after Wayne Rooney had given Manchester United the lead in West London. Frank Lampard completed the recovery with a second half spot kick which keeps United's lead at four points ahead of Arsenal in second spot.

vs * How the players fared
* Are Blues back in title race?
* Lampard: We're back in the hunt
*
Ferguson: Luiz should have seen red

Chelsea could have made the breakthrough on two occasions in the opening moments, after Fernando Torres was denied his first goal for the club following a foul inside the penalty box, with the referee having penalised fellow January signing Luiz for a tug.

And the hosts could have found the net after five minutes, when a run down the right from Ramires was closely checked by United’s John O’Shea, but the Irishman couldn’t stop the ball continuing for Nicolas Anelka. He delivered a cross which Florent Malouda fired in from the edge of the area. The shot was aimed directly at Edwin van der Sar, but the lack of defenders in Malouda’s vicinity was not encouraging for United fans.

As the half progressed, both sides had spells in which the opening goal could have been scored. Both Anelka and Rooney dragged shots wide from long range efforts.

In an even contest like this, chances need to be taken, and as the 30 minute mark approached it was the visitors who took theirs after an overlapping run from Patrice Evra opened an avenue for Nani to explore. The Portuguese winger’s run drew sufficient attention from the Chelsea defence to allow Rooney space, and after Nani moved the ball onto him, the England striker turned to face goal and let rip a right footed shot from the edge of the box which beat Petr Cech low to his right.

There was much derision from the home support as they felt Rooney shouldn’t have even been on the field following his indiscretion at Wigan on Saturday. No matter, Rooney was available for selection and Sir Alex couldn't have cared one jot.

And the United boss had more reasons to be cheerful when Van der Sar showed he’s still got it with a couple of quick and instinctive saves from close range. Lampard launched a free-kick in from the Chelsea right which flew to the far post where Branislav Ivanovic prodded the ball goalwards only to see the panther-like Van der Sar keep him at bay.

It was a close as Ancelotti’s men had come to levelling up the game but as the players returned to the dressing room, United looked like extending their lead at the top of the table.


Fighting spirit | Lampard penalty sees Chelsea come from behind against league leaders

Chelsea needed a response. They came out for the second half with determination and guile and this paid dividends as Luiz reclaimed parity with his first goal for the club.

A cleared ball from the United defence was scooped up by Michael Essien who delivered the ball back into the danger area where Ivanovic flicked the ball onto Luiz, who with an excellent volley, smashed the ball into the left corner of Van der Sar’s goal and give the Blues a way back into the contest.

With the scores level, the game truly opened up and chances were in abundance. Rooney could have had another had his errant shot been remotely on target after 64 minutes. Gary Neville, who was with the United fans in the Shed End was cursing his former colleague.

Shortly after, an error by Michael Carrick could have been punished had Malouda made more of the chance. Carrick would have been sighing with relief after Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling combined to nullify the threat.

With the game standing all square, the changes began. Didier Drogba was on for Nicolas Anelka, Dimitar Berbatov replaced Chicarito. Yury Zhirkov came on for Malouda. But most noteworthy was Ryan Giggs making his record equalling 606th league appearance for Manchester United when he replaced another stalwart, Paul Scholes.  

In neat piece of symmetry, Giggs was equalling the record of Sir Bobby Charlton who made his 606th and final league appearance on the same ground, and 20 years and one day since he made his debut for the Red Devils.

With time waning the game sprung another surprise, a contentious foul conceded by Smalling on Zhirkov gave Chelsea the chance to take the lead. Lampard stepped up and thundered the ball straight down the middle to give Ancelotti’s men the lead for the first time.

To compound matters for United, captain Vidic received a second yellow card in the dying moments for a foul on Ramires; suffering a suspension which will rule him out of the weekend's clash with Liverpool

At half time Ferguson would have been happy and settled with the game, but a second half revival from Chelsea keeps the title race alive, but only just.

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