Chelsea overcome Man Utd in Halloween thriller
Blues refuse to lie down and die as football takes centre stage after referee dramas
Chelsea 5 Manchester United 4. The Capital One Cup produced another classic last night as Chelsea and Manchester United served up a nine goal thriller that was almost, if not quite, in the same league as Arsenal's encounter with Reading a day earlier.
After the controversy of Sunday's clash between the same two teams, when Chelsea were reduced to nine men, lost to an offside goal and afterwards accused the referee of using racial slurs, there were fears about how this Halloween rematch would play out.
In the event the dramas were all football related, and it was Chelsea who refused to lie down and die on All Hallows' Eve. When the dust settled it was the Blues who came out on top, despite falling behind three times.
United took the lead in the first half after Oriel Romeu was robbed on the edge of his box after a poor clearance from Petr Cech and Ryan Giggs slotted home. Chelsea drew level when David Luiz smashed home a penalty after Victor Moses was felled by Alex Buttner.
Luiz then blotted his copybook with a hare-brained charge out of defence that ended with him losing the ball on the halfway line and Anderson slotting it through to Javier Hernandez who made it 2-1.
Back came Chelsea again early in the second half, this time through Gary Cahill who headed home Juan Mata's corner. The linesman awarded the goal after correctly spotting it had crossed the line before Rafael Da Silva's clearance.
United took the lead for a third time after an hour when Nani, Anderson and Hernandez combined before Nani clipped the ball over Cech. It looked as though United would hang on, but in the fourth minute of injury time Nani lost the ball and Chelsea launched a final attack. It ended when young defender Scott Wootton fouled Ramires in the box and Eden Hazard equalised from the spot.
Chelsea finally took the lead in extra time when Wootton's weak header was pounced on by Daniel Sturridge who rounded Anders Lindegaard. Hazard then set up Ramires to make it 5-3, only for Ryan Giggs to convert a penalty in the dying moments of the match.
"It was gripping stuff played in a fine spirit and refereed well - and for that, even more than the drama, we should be grateful," said The Times.
There was even room for humour at Stamford Bridge as the United fans unfurled a banner that mocked Chelsea's devotion to John Terry, deified as 'captain, leader, legend' among the fans. United's effort read 'Clattenburg: Referee, Leader, Legend'.
But on a more serious note Chelsea have lodged a formal complaint with the FA over Mark Clattenburg, who refereed Sunday's match. The club has dropped a claim that he abused Juan Mata but have officially complained that he used "inappropriate language" towards midfielder Jon Obi Mikel.