Ramires scored the winning goal in extra-time as Chelsea avenged last Sunday's EPL loss with a thrilling 5-4 win against a young Manchester United side to reach the League Cup quarter-finals.
It was a match scattered with defensive errors— epitomised by the three penalties awarded in total, but there was no lack of entertainment in match which saw six goals scored in regulation time and another three in extra-time.
It looked like Nani's lovely chipped finish over Petr Cech had given United a second successive 3-2 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but Scott Wooton's clumsy challenge on Ramires in the dying seconds of the match allowed Eden Hazard to equalise from the spot.
Wooton's match then turned into a nightmare when he attempted to head the ball back to Anders Lindegaard, only managing to put it in the path of Daniel Sturridge who gave Chelsea their first lead in extra-time after a clinical finish. The young defender hadn't put a foot wrong until the last couple of seconds and one must feel sorry for the way his night ended.
It was a valiant attempt from United's young squad which consisted of Wooton, Michael Keane, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Nick Powell and Federico Macheda but it came to an end when Ramires finished off a sweeping move to give Chelsea a 5-3 lead in the 116th minute.
Ryan Giggs converted a penalty in the 120th minute but it was already too late to salvage the match.
In the first half, the Blues gifted two goals to United after defensive errors from Petr Cech and David Luiz were punished by Giggs and Javier Hernandez. The hosts will, however, be aggrieved at the decision to not get a penalty after it looked like the ball had struck Michael Keane's arm in the box after Juan Mata's shot.
First Giggs capitalised on a defensive error from Chelsea goalkeeper Cech and Romeu to open the scoring. Cech's quick and short goalkick towards Romeu didn't turn out to be a good idea with three United attackers swarming around him. Anderson was on to him in a jiffy and Giggs tucked it past Cech as soon as the Brazilian nicked the ball away.
Chelsea's first of three equalisers came when referee Lee Mason, who was under the spotlight after United's controversy riddled league win against Chelsea, had no hesitation in pointing to the spot when Jack Buttner tripped Victor Moses. David Luiz duly converted the penalty to start a see-saw scoring affair.
Chelsea were indeed getting into their stride before another mistake, this time from Luiz gave the ball away to Anderson who threaded the ball for Hernandez to deftly finish and restore United's lead at 2-1 before the teams went in at half-time.
Roberto Di Matteo threw on Ramires for Obi Mikel at the start of the second half but it was another centre-back Gary Cahill who got on the scoresheet via Juan Mata's corner. Rafael initially thought he had cleared the English defender's header off the line but the linesman got his decision spot on as the ball had cleared the goal-line after striking the underside of the bar.
Hernandez and Daniel Sturridge both had chances to fire their respective teams in the lead before the 22nd minute goal from Giggs and Victor Moses wasted a gilt-edged chance from 10 yards out with the score at 3-2.
The exchanges in the first half were a shadow of the English Premier League clash on Sunday which United won 3-2. But the introduction of Ramires at half-time and Eden Hazard after Chelsea's equaliser added some bite to the home team. Chelsea also brought on Oscar for Romeu and the fleet-footed playmaker tested Anders Lindegaard with five minutes but United held on to their slender lead until virtually the last kick of normal time.
Manchester United played youngsters Scott Wooton and Micheal Keane in the middle of defence and Jack Buttner at left back. It was Buttner's freekick that went out for a goalkick which Cech took quickly but United's new recruit wasn't having the best of his games and he was subbed for midfielder Nick Powell at half-time. The Red Devils also brought on youngster Ryan Tunnicliffe for Anderson with 10 minutes to go.
Alex Ferguson will understandably be disappointed to not win the game after taking the lead thrice, but this match will also act as a massive learning experience for those coming through United's ranks.
In other matches, Tottenham Hotspur buckled under Norwich pressure in the last few minutes to give up their one-goal lead to eventually lose 1-2 to Norwich. Clint Dempsey had a chance to equalise from the penalty spot in the dying minutes, but the American could not convert. Gareth Bale had give Spurs the lead but a Jan Vertonghen own goal and a Simeone Jackson effort in the 87th minute cancelled out the Welshman's opener.
For Liverpool, times are getting worse. They failed to win at Anfield against Swansea with goals from Chico, Nathan Dyer and De Guzman giving the away team a 3-1 win.
First Published On : Nov 1, 2012 12:05 IST