LONDON // A game which promised goals did not disappoint. But it also brought controversy as two Chelsea players were sent off in their 3-2 defeat by Manchester United.
And the winning goal was a dubious one which both the scorer and his manager conceded it could have been ruled out.
"Probably,"said the substitute Javier Hernandez when asked if he was offside for the winner. "It's a habit I have to look to linesman. It was a difficult game but we were lucky that we scored the last goal."
Sir Alex Ferguson said: "It's been 10 years since we have won down here. We had a good record until Jose [Mourinho] came along and spoiled the party.
"We've never got breaks down here and had some terrible decisions against us in the last few years. But today we have got a little break for the goal - Chicharito [Hernandez] may have been offside."
Branislav Ivanovic was the first Chelsea player to see red for a 62nd-minute challenge on Ashley Young and he was followed four minutes later by Fernando Torres, who went down when Jonny Evans made contact in a challenge but Mark Clattenburg, the referee, produced a second yellow card for the Spaniard and the Londoners were down to nine men.
United began superbly and took the lead after three minutes. Wayne Rooney crossed towards Robin van Persie and his shot beat Petr Cech but not the post and the ball deflected towards David Luiz and into the goal.
United were unrelenting, attacking from both wings against a home team who could not find their feet and took a 2-0 lead after 11 minutes when the full-back Rafael released Antonio Valencia on the right. The Ecuadorian crossed back towards Van Persie, approaching the edge of the area.
The Dutchman met the cross perfectly as he sidefooted past Cech.
With a two-goal cushion against the unbeaten league leaders, United sat deep, with Rooney often shielding his central defenders. Chelsea began to attack, David de Gea saving a 23rd-minute Luiz free kick with a foot. Eleven minutes later, Evans turned a John Obi Mikel cross on to his own post. Gary Cahill headed the ensuing corner towards goal, but the Spaniard saved with his shin.
With Mikel forceful and Juan Mata mesmerising, Chelsea's pressure and confidence continued to grow.
When Rooney was booked for a rash challenge on edge of the area, Mata sized up a free kick and his compatriot did not have a chance as he curled a stunning free kick past the keeper a minute before the break.
Chelsea continued after the break where they left off, Ramires heading an equaliser in the 53rd minute from an Oscar cross after more good work by Mata and questionable defending by Evans.
United took advantage after the double sending off and went back ahead after 74 minutes, Hernandez turning in Rafael's shot after more good work from the outstanding Van Persie.
As United celebrated, Chelsea fumed their, fans singing: "3-2 to the referee." United were content to keep possession and hold on for a win, Chelsea to curse about injustice.
Just one point now separates Chelsea from the two Manchester clubs in second and third.
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