Robin van Persie denied Chelsea all three points with a late equaliser to spoil Didier Drogba’s winning party.
The Blues, who were matched man-for-man in the first half, stepped up a gear in the second and were rightly ahead with Drogba’s header. But Robin van Persie’s bullet in the 94th minute sent Old Trafford into an embarrassing frenzy, and left Mourinho dejected.
With Costa and Remy out, it was down to Didier Drogba to lead the Chelsea line for the 350th time. The Chelsea legend held the ball up well in the first half but, when presented with a good opportunity four minute before the interval, could only find De Gea’s legs.
Manchester United, meanwhile, were disciplined in their approach from the off. With Chelsea’s fast start and known threats of Hazard and Fabregas, it was no surprise to see Louis van Gaal set his side up to contain and counter. Di Maria and Mata found van Persie on multiple occasions but Courtois is not regarded as one of the game’s best goalkeepers for no reason.
So for 45 minutes, it was deadlock between the master and his apprentice. But that would change soon enough.
Manchester United’s persistence waned and Hazard had the game’s best chance when found one-on-one with de Gea. The Belgian struck powerfully but the goalkeeper guessed the right way.
Mourinho would not have been happy but thankfully the Blues made amends from the ensuing corner. Had Hazard scored, it would have been Drogba’s assist, the the Ivorian turned from goal-maker to goal-scorer, leaping Munich-like to give Chelsea the lead.
40 minutes of containment ensued, but as happened previously in Manchester, the bus was not parked rigidly enough. Ivanovic’s silly foul brought his game to a pre-mature end and though Chelsea were down to 10 men for only 30 seconds, it was in enough time for an equaliser to be scored. Courtois did well to stop Fellani but van Persie was probing.
Man of the Match
THIBAUT COURTOIS: He will be bitterly disappointed to not record a clean sheet but, on a personal note for him, he certainly recorded another fine game. Commanding and utterly dominant in his box, Chelsea could have fallen behind on multiple occasions but the Belgian stood firm to deny Van Persie on three separate occasions, as well as claiming crosses from Di Maria with an air of authority. 7/10
Mourinho was livid with referee Dowd: “The red card, I was seeing it coming. If I have to speak about the second yellow [for Ivanovic] I have to speak about lots of things: the penalty that Ivanovic should have been given [under the challenge of Chris Smalling], the accumulation of yellow cards, the throw-ins. I know I speak always with my heart and get in trouble.”
Van Gaal was likewise disappointed his side could not take all three points: “I’m not pleased as I still have the feeling we could have won today and that we don’t take our opportunities at the moment. That’s our fault. The red card doesn’t change anything.”