Chelsea edge past Manchester United in nine-goal thriller
London: For the second time in four days Chelsea and Manchester United played out a thriller at Stamford Bridge, with the hosts gaining some revenge for their Premier League defeat by winning 5-4 to book their spot in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.
As expected both clubs made significant changes to their starting line-ups, Roberto Di Matteo handed rare starts to Cesar Azpilicueta, Oriol Romeu, Victor Moses, Lucas Piazon and Daniel Sturridge while the visitors, made 10 changes to their team, with Rafael the only man to retain his place from Sunday`s win.
After the chaos of the weekend, it was perhaps little surprise that the first half was a frenetic affair, played at great pace, with goals, bookings, a penalty and the visitors once again heading into the break 2-1 ahead.
Yet there was more than a hint of farce about United’s opening goal with Petr Cech’s short kick out to Romeu, allowing Anderson to nick the ball off the Spaniard and find Ryan Giggs who finished clinically to open the scoring.
The goal sparked Chelsea into life, and by the half hour mark they were level. The lively Victor Moses burst into the box only to be brought down by Alexander Buttner, giving the referee an easy decision to point to the spot. Up stepped David Luiz who smashed the ball confidently past Anders Lindegaard who got a touch but could not keep it out.
With the scores level the Blues began to dominate possession yet they fell behind once again just minutes before the break. Anderson was again the creator, picking out a great pass to Chicharito, after Luiz had lost the ball on a forward run, and the Mexican finished smartly past Cech for his sixth goal in nine appearances against Chelsea.
The second half began in much the same vein and within minutes Chelsea were back on level terms. A Mata corner from the left was thundered home by Gary Cahill, the ball clearly crossing the line, despite Rafael`s attempts to head clear.
Yet back came United once again, just three minutes later. Nani swapped passes with Anderson and raced into the box before dinking a delightful finish over Cech to put United ahead for the third time.
The chances continued to flow, particularly for the hosts, with Azpilicueta missing perhaps the best opportunity when free at the back post, before Juan Mata was left howling for a penalty after his cross hit the arm of Michael Keane, the referee waving the Spaniard`s appeals away.
As full-time approached, Chelsea looked to be heading out of the competition but once again there was to be late drama. Another penalty, this time after Scott Wootton clumsily fouled Ramires, allowed Hazard to coolly roll home a spot-kick to send the game into extra time.
The momentum was very much now with the hosts and the Blues took the lead for the first time in the game in the seventh minutes of extra-time. A poor header by Wootton, left Sturridge with just Lindegaard to beat, and the Chelsea striker, who had endured a profligate evening, this time made no mistake.
On another fascinating evening in the Capital One Cup, there was, of course, still time for more goals, with Hazard twisting and turning past a host of United defenders before finding Ramires who tapped home the fifth.
United, however, refused to give up and with seconds remaining Giggs grabbed his second of the night from the penalty spot after Azpilicueta fouled Chicharito, but it was to prove too little too late as Chelsea ended a difficult few days on a high.