English Premier League

United narrows gap with controversial win

October 28, 2012
By ESPN.com news services

Substitute Javier Hernandez ended Manchester United's 10-year wait for a Premier League victory at Chelsea on Sunday, striking late to secure a 3-2 win after the hosts had two players sent off.

The Mexico international scored in the 75th minute after referee Mark Clattenburg allowed his goal to count despite the United striker appearing to be in an offside position.

"He's always going to be a threat to defenders and he's got the winning goal in an important game," United manager Alex Ferguson said after his team's first league win at Chelsea since April 2002.

"It's always hard to come here and it's hard to get decisions here. Over the last few years there have been some shocking decisions against us, and I think everyone knows that. But today, if we did get a little break, I think we deserved it."

United climbed back above third-place neighbor Manchester City on goal difference, a point behind first-place Chelsea.

United had thrown away a two-goal lead established inside 12 minutes. Robin van Persie saw his shot turned in by Chelsea defender David Luiz before getting on the scoresheet himself.

Chelsea fought back as Juan Mata curled in a free kick just before half time and Ramires headed in an equalizer eight minutes after the break.

Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesJavier Hernandez scored a contentious 75th-minute winner Sunday to leave United a point behind league leaders Chelsea.

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic was sent off in the 63rd for bringing down Ashley Young, and striker Fernando Torres received a second booking for diving.

Just after Hernandez's winner, a steward in front of Chelsea fans appeared to be hit by an object and fell to the ground. He was still receiving treatment as the match ended.

Chelsea had not lost at Stamford Bridge in a league match to United since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, and he watched in frustration as his side's comeback counted for nothing.

Ivanovic was fortunate to escape an earlier booking for clattering into Ashley Young before United struck again, Ferdinand this time the architect.

The defender was predictably booed as he ambled out of defense and found Rafael, who fed Antonio Valencia, with the winger's low cross instantly swept home by van Persie.

It was a goal of embarrassing ease against a Chelsea side manager Roberto Di Matteo had warned about the way it was starting games, but the European champions finally woke up midway through the half when Michael Carrick chopped down Ramires.

He should have been booked but Luiz almost punished him anyway with a brutal free kick which David De Gea inexplicably elected to save with his legs, the Spaniard deviating from the goalkeeping coaching playbook again to keep out Gary Cahill's header.

Torres was struggling again but his attempt to react to a corner missed by everyone else was a long shot and his header was only kept out by a brilliant De Gea save.

The goalkeeper could do nothing when Wayne Rooney upended Eden Hazard with an apparent revenge tackle a minute from halftime -- earning a booking -- and Mata stepped up to curl a sumptuous free kick into the corner.

Mata would have equalized moments later had De Gea not made amends for a botched clearance before Torres earned his first booking for a foul on Tom Cleverley.

But Chelsea needed only seven minutes of the second half to deservedly level as Mata took the game by the scruff of the neck.

After scuffing a right-foot shot, he showed sublime control to keep Oscar's ball in play, allowing the Brazilian to cross again for Ramires to head home.

Hazard had two more sniffs before United got a grip.

And it was given a golden opportunity to snatch all three points as disaster struck for Chelsea when Ivanovic and Torres were both sent off in the space of five minutes.

Ivanovic could have no complaints, the right back seeing red for bringing down Young, who had been played clean through by Van Persie.

Rooney fired the resultant free kick just over before United replaced the ineffective Cleverley with Hernandez and Chelsea sent on Cesar Azpilicueta for Oscar.

The Blues were about to bring on Daniel Sturridge for Torres but the striker joined Ivanovic in the dressing room when he was controversially shown a second yellow for diving when replays showed he had been caught by Evans.

Torres was furious, trudging off and berating the fourth official, who was then forced to keep Di Matteo and Ferguson apart on the touchline.

Ryan Bertrand joined the fray instead of Sturridge but Chelsea faced an impossible task with nine men and Hernandez snatched what proved the winner 15 minutes from time from an offside position.

Petr Cech brilliantly tipped van Persie's shot onto the post but Rafael followed up and Hernandez turned the ball home.

Mikel was booked for his protest, Sturridge entered the fray and Valencia also saw yellow as well as wasting a chance to kill the contest.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.