Man U conquer Chelsea in epic showdown
LONDON, England (AFP) — Manchester United closed to within a point of leaders Chelsea with a dramatic 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge yesterday at the end of a day packed with controversy in the Premier League.
Javier Hernandez scored a 75th-minute winner for United, after Chelsea had fought back from two goals down to equalise and then see both Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres sent off.
Torres saw red after being shown a second yellow card for diving following a challenge by United centre-back Jonny Evans, while Hernandez's winner was allowed to stand despite the Mexican being in an offside position.
"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," said United coach Alex Ferguson.
The drama followed an incident-packed 2-2 draw between Everton and Liverpool, in which Luis Suarez had an injury-time winner disallowed after earlier mocking Everton coach David Moyes for labelling him a diver.
As the dust settled, both United and champions Manchester City were only a point behind previously unbeaten Chelsea, while Tottenham Hotspur had moved up to fourth after winning 2-1 at Southampton.
United tore out of the blocks at Stamford Bridge and were 2-0 up inside 12 minutes after a pair of rapid attacks down their right flank.
Chelsea defender David Luiz inadvertently gave United the lead in the third minute, diverting the ball past his own goalkeeper after Robin van Persie's strike came back off the post.
Van Persie doubled the visitors' advantage nine minutes later, sweeping the ball past Petr Cech from Antonio Valencia's right-wing cut-back.
Ferguson's men were flying, but Chelsea hit back and Juan Mata rewarded their pressure in the 44th minute with a pin-point free-kick that curled inside the left-hand post.
Ramires headed home an equaliser from Oscar's lofted cross eight minutes into the second period, before the two dismissals that tipped the game in United's favour.
Ivanovic seemed to have few complaints after clipping Ashley Young as he bore down on goal in the 63rd minute, but Torres' second booking for diving was far less clear-cut and sparked an angry confrontation between the two dug-outs.
To make matters worse for the hosts, Hernandez claimed the winner for United with 15 minutes to play, despite clearly retreating from an offside position before tapping in Rafael's low centre.
Earlier, Moyes had the last laugh as his side came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Liverpool in a gripping Merseyside derby.
Suarez forced Leighton Baines to put through his own goal and then scored another to put the visitors 2-0 up inside 20 minutes, celebrating his role in the opener with a gleeful dive right in front of the Everton bench.
It was aimed as a rebuke to Moyes, who had criticised the Uruguayan for diving in the build-up to the game, but Everton reacted quickly and drew level before half-time through goals from Leon Osman and Steven Naismith.
Suarez thought he had had the final say after poking the ball home in the fourth minute of injury time, but the goal was ruled out despite the Liverpool striker being onside.
The point initially took Everton into fourth place, but they were bumped down to fifth when Spurs won 2-1 at St Mary's to take a place in the Champions League positions.
Gareth Bale opened the scoring in the 15th minute against his former club, with Clint Dempsey doubling Spurs' lead six minutes prior to half-time before Jay Rodriguez replied for Southampton in the second half.
In the day's other game, a fortuitous injury-time effort by Papiss Cisse gave Newcastle United a 2-1 victory at home to West Bromwich Albion.