54 years ago United drew 3-3 in what was to be the Busby Babes final game together. This was a fitting performance in their memory and one that I am sure Sir Matt would have been very proud of.
United went into the game knowing 3 points was really a must to close the gap to Manchester City and we started well dominating the early encounters. We could and probably should have had a penalty when Ashley Young was pulled back in the area, referee Howard Webb had a great view of it but inexplicably turned down the appeals. Not long after Welbeck latched on to a through ball only to be upended, replays showed it was probably just outside the area but once again Webb waved play on.
The game then became the usual scrappy affair, lots of petty fouls and whistle blowing at every opportunity by the inept Webb (cue my touch-line ban). Chelsea struggled to make any impact on the game and it was always United that were the most likely to score.
What happened next in 10 minutes of football either side of half time I don’t think anyone could believe. First Sturridge danced past Evra on the by line and drilled the ball across goal, De Gea tried to get a foot on it but it deflected off him into Evans and over the line, half time Chelsea 1-0 up. 24 seconds into the second half Torres found acres of space on the right (once again Evra who had a nightmare was nowhere to be seen) he whipped in a cross to the far post that was met by the crispest of volleys by Mata who smashed it past De Gea. Chelsea buoyant and United stunned as Chelsea came forward again and again Evra at fault as he up ended Sturridge on the edge of the area. Mata swung over the free kick and Luiz head followed by Rio’s shoulder and the ball finds the top corner.
Chelsea 3-0 up and United in disarray but this is Manchester United with a never say die attitude that dates back to those Busby Babes and they were not going to give this game up without a fight.
Defensive errors most notable from Evra had cost us big, but it was Evra’s attacking influence that started the comeback. As he was put in down the left he broke into the area and as Sturridge attempted tackle came in Evra moved across, Sturridge was commited and Evra’s right leg was taken from under him, Webb pointed to the spot, Penalty. At first glance I must admit I thought it was soft but replays certainly show plenty of contact. Rooney stepped up and smashed the most emphatic penalty you will see into the top corner 3-1 there’s hope.
This really was United’s half and the introduction of Scholes was pivotal as the little magician controlled the game from here on in. Pinging passes left and right and space started to open up. Rooney became more and more into the game as Scholes found him in space with ease and you really felt it was only a matter of time before we scored a second.
We didn’t have to wait long as on 69 minutes Hernandez found space inside the box and thread a ball into Welbeck who nudged the ball past Ivanovic. The big defender stuck out a boot and Welbeck went over, Webb amazingly again pointed to the spot. The inconsistent Webb possibly got this one wrong but United were not going to complain about some good fortune at the Bridge for once. Rooney stepped up again, sent the keeper the wrong way and it was 3-2 game on.
At this point I was only amazed it took until the 83rd minute to find the equalizer, Valencia who had been pushed to right back drilled in a cross which Rooney controlled and brought a sharp save from Cech, who pushed the ball out to United’s left where Giggs was lurking. He swung in a perfect cross to find Hernandez in acres of space to head home. United fans jubilant, Chelsea fans booing and leaving.
It was an incredible fight back and I know at the start of the day 3 points was a must but at 3-0 down a point felt like a win and considering our record at Stamford Bridge a point was I believe a good result for us in terms of the title race.