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Hernandez heads United comeback

Manchester United produced a trademark comeback to force a draw at Stamford Bridge.

Two Wayne Rooney’s penalties and a late equaliser by Javier Hernandez saw United snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat, after having been 3-0 down at one stage, while David DeGea produced two outstanding saves deep in injury time to deny Chelsea and earn United a deserved point on a bitterly cold afternoon in West London.

United, looking for a first league win at Chelsea since 2002, welcomed back Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young but were forced to replace Chris Smalling, after the former Fulham man fell victim of an injury in training.

DeGea, much criticised after his performance at Anfield seven days ago, regained his spot between the posts, with Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans and Evra at the back; Valencia, Giggs, Carrick and Young were deployed in midfield, with Rooney and Welbeck up-front.

Chelsea were without the injured John Terry – Chelsea fans booed Ferdinand throughout the game, although what his fault is supposed to be remains everyone’s guess. Perhaps standing by your brother who’s allegedly being subject to racial abuse is not “in” in this part of the capital – and Ashley Cole among others, meaning that both teams had to field makeshift back fours.

Stamford Bridge hasn’t been a happy ground for United lately – last season’s 1-0 in the Champions League quarter finals proving the exception rather than the rule – but they started with verve, bossing the game like they had done against Liverpool a week ago.

United felt they should have had a penalty – or at least a freekick – when Cahill pulled Welbeck down on the edge of the box.

Replays showed that the contact started outside the box and, had it been given, it would have seen Chelsea down to 10 men. Howard Webb, however, waved play on.

United seemed in control when, against the run of play, Chelsea struck.

Sturridge received the ball in the area, turned Evra way too easily and look to deliver the ball across the goal.

The ball took a deflection off DeGea’s foot onto Jonny Evans’ chest before ending up in the back of the net.

As far as fortuitous goals go, this was right at the top of the list.

United were close to equalise just before half-time, when Young, Rooney and Welbeck forced good saves from Cech.

If United had gone back to the dressing room finding themselves behind because of bad luck, they had nobody else to blame for coming undone in the first five minutes of the second half.

First, straight after the restart, Torres was allowed way too much space on the left; the former Liverpool man floated in a ball at the far post which was beautifully met by Mata’s left foot volley that left DeGea no chance.

Then, five minutes later, Luiz rose to meet Mata’s freekick, his header taking a big deflection off Ferdinand’s back before flying past a helpless DeGea.

United’s back four was at fault for both goals, with poor marking leaving DeGea virtually no chance in both occasions.

Against City in October, facing a similar situation, United had thrown caution to the wind, ending up conceding six goals. Here, they stuck to the basics and regrouped.

Ferguson introduced Hernandez for Young, a move that would prove vital in the context of the game.

With 58 minutes gone, Evra decided to turn his afternoon for the better as he sprinted ahead of Sturridge in the box; the former Bolton man made no contact with the ball while clipping the Frenchman’s right foot.

Rooney blasted the subsequent penalty in the top corner to give United a lifeline back into the game.

Ten minutes later United were awarded another penalty, as Welbeck was tripped in the box by Ivanovic, after some brilliant work by Hernandez had set up the England striker.

In truth, Welbeck left his leg out long enough to make contact with Ivanovic’s foot.

Rooney made no mistake, slotting the penalty in the bottom right corner this time.

United were well and truly back in the game and poured men forward with Scholes, who had replaced Rafael with Valencia moving at rightback, orchestrating the play from midfield.

United piling the pressure meant that they were leaving room for Chelsea to counter attack and Torres inexplicably elected to dribble Evans when he should have shot, only for Valencia to clear the danger.

Like they have done time and again in the past, United looked set to conjure a late equaliser, as Chelsea sat back too deep.

Villas Boas’ choice of replacing Sturridge was quite a strange one, as the England striker had been a livewire throughout the game, while Torres looked his usual West London self – decent movement but never in danger of scoring.

Despite Hernandez dragging his shot wide with ten minutes left, there was a sense of inevitability around Stamford Bridge and, when the Mexican striker was left unmarked in the box to head home Ryan Giggs’ cross, after Cech had brilliantly parried Rooney’s vicious strike, the goal didn’t surprise anybody.

Least of all the United faithful in the away end that went berserk when the ball crossed the line.

United looked set to going for the jugular but, instead, it was Chelsea who went close to win the game: DeGea’s stunning saves on Juan Mata’s brilliant freekick and then on Cahill’s long range pile-driver were an astonishing finale to a pulsating encounter.

Despite falling two points behind City, United will take positives from this game, and not just for the way the got a point.

Rooney looked to be back to his best, in the thick of the action, while Carrick and Valencia carried on were they had left – assured performances and excellent work ethic.

Add to that the Fergie has a guy like Hernandez coming off the bench – 8th league goal of the season for the Mexican for whom United paid, it’s worth remember, seven times less than Chelsea paid for Torres.

Chelsea will be left wondering how they let a 3 goals advantage slip at home and will be looking over their shoulders with Arsenal and Newcastle looking to close the gap on the fourth spot.

54 years ago today, the Busby Babes played their last ever game drawing 3-3, so it was, perhaps, fitting that United produced such a spirited comeback to honour their memory.




Daniele (@MUFC_dan87)



  1. Opti

    5 February 2012 at 21:49

    Sorry for band-wagoning onto your excellent review. I am surprised that you did not add a couple of exclamation points to that Chicharito goal 🙂

    Quick Review:

    I’m a bit shocked. We started well albeit a bit slow and hesitant. Then came a stalemate followed by a half-to-half overlapping disastrous and disgraceful 10 minutes from 44:00 – 55:00 left me furious and distraught. The next 30 minutes were a rush of glorious emotions (barring the unnecessary heart-attack from Torres’ fumble).

    If you had told me we would draw, I would have said “acceptable”, because it leaves us in control (with a victory over City needed). With Cole, Lampard, Terry out, I was edging United for the rare win. At 3-0, I was begging for avoiding a City-like drubbing. At 3-2, I was BELIEVING. At 3-3, I was asking for a winning goal. After the game, I was breathing and with a regular heartbeat. Great game. I can live with a draw.

    Quick Ratings:
    De Gea: 7.5 — was poor for 60 minutes but that save lifts him up to a good game. Jesus!! W.H.A.T. a save!

    Evra: 4 — poor for most of the game. Seemed slow and sleepy. Besides penalty award, was awful.
    Rio: 5 — poor and disorganized. Has lost serious pace, which is troubling. Sell him, please.
    Evans: 7 — thought he did quite well barring the own-goal (not his fault) .
    Rafael: 7 — our best performer in first half with excellent tackling and positioning. Should have done better on Mata’s wondergoal.

    Vally: 6 — average game for him. I feel like he could not handle the pressure from Media as our way-past-chelsea.
    Carrick: 8 — did well. Some poor passing in 1st half but was solid in 2nd, especially with Scholes.
    Giggs: 7 — did well. Had a couple magic moments but did not manage a top performance for some poor passing in final third
    Young: 5 — poor all game. Poor passing, running (fit?), and crosses. Corners we (again) abysmal, albeit not his fault

    Rooney: 5/8 — thought he was very poor in first half and improved a lot in 2nd half. Excellent penalties too. Needs to improve passing.
    Welbeck: 6 — disappointed with his decision making (esp. in 1st 45 mins) and passing. Good runs however. Disappointed with him being subbed when we were at 3-3.

    Chicharito: 8 — gave him an 8 just for his goal. Excellent excellent excellent! Good runs too. Never saw replays of his off-sides, so I cannot claim he was not focused

    Scholes: 8 — outstanding sub-appearance. Changed the game for the better. Brought meaning to our possession and attacks.

    Park: 6 — meh. Disappointed to see him on when we were doing so well with 433. Thought we lost our way upon his introduction (last 5 minutes).

    Fergie: Disappointed that we did not take advantage of Cole’s absence at all with Vally being too defensive. Good to see him go 433 at 3-0 and it paid off. Bothered me when he took off Welbz and essentially giving up on the win (at 3-3). Has he lost his edge or was it necessary — that’s the fan vs. manager argument.

  2. Opti

    5 February 2012 at 21:55

    That picture of De Gea is amazing and compares well with THAT ONE by good old Peter Schmeichel.

    De Gea is moving on up!

    • tonymontanna4united

      6 February 2012 at 14:40

      @Opti: It was truely schmeichelesque wasnt it. But we know the guy is capable of that really.
      Truth be told i think hes been unfairly criticised during his time here tbh. Yes hes been shaky at times, and without doubt, hes still got a lot of improving to do before he can expect to be the undisputable first choice every week.
      However, in terms of massive errors over the course of the season, errors where we can firmly point in his direction and say, yes hes definitely at fault there, am i the only one who thinks these have been few and far between?
      I mean, WBA, maybe basle and blackburn games apart, i dont think i can remember another game where he made a game changing mistake, that he was solely at fault for (the liverpool game last week was a mistake, but to be fair liverpool did deploy rugby tactics there, and de gea was hardly being helped out by his team mates).
      Theres been a few where, without doubt, he should have reacted better, and been more dominant, vocal in dealing with certain pressures from the opposition, but certainly nothing awful save the few examples mentioned.
      I think without being perfect himself, hes been pretty solid since his arrival. Certainly not the disaster, waste of space, some have labelled him as.
      I think more of our problems have been due to the horrendous decline of the players in front of him, particularly in defence.
      I mean evras fall from up there with the worlds best to his current non league standard, the gradual decline of rio, and the absense of vidic for much of this season, is bound to have an effect isnt it?
      So i know some might not agree with this, but honestly i would say with the way our defence has been this season, and the total lack of midfield protection we had for the first 2/3 months of the season, i believe had edwin still been in goal for us, he’d not have fared much better.

      • Opti

        6 February 2012 at 18:52

        @tonymontanna4united: Also, don’t forget that Schmeichel came to United at age 27 (or 28) — Lindegaard’s age!!!

        De Gea, the world is yours!!

        Also, Lindegaard looks like good business too… especially if he can play for Denmarks national team at the Euros [he is fighting with crappy Sørensen… and should be above him, according to me and most people].

        Good keepers, good strikers, good wingers, good young players.

        WE ARE UNITED!

  3. ash is the man

    6 February 2012 at 00:31

    Two unbelievable penalties. Fair play to rooney for stepping up twice and taking the responsibility especially after his recent spot kicks were not that good. I thought we played some good football and the movement and fluidity in our play was a joy to behold. And I have to state a fact that welbeck was outstanding today- his movement and positional play caused chelsea problems throughout and, him and rooney look like they are going to have a very formidable partnership for years to come.

    For the major part of the game we dominated play and were always positive. Chelsea scored two sloppy goals and never looked like a team that once were close rivals. Today we showed true spirit, determination and a great togetherness. Chelsea were extremely lucky to go one goal ahead let alone 3 goals and on another day we would of given them a good hammering.

    What can I say about chico. He is the new baby faced assassin and he is a great impact player. This is a great weapon to have and we are truly blessed. He always delivers. Liverpool earlier this season and stoke last season. I still believe our best strike force is rooney and welbz. But ole solskjaer played a huge part coming of the bench and he was happy with that- I beleive chico will have a similar role. At the end of the day we have an embarresment of riches up front and from watching the match today I struggle to see how some fans think we are boring or in a crisis and that we need to sign this player and that player. We are a top team and YES even the centre midfield is pretty decent to and I just feel like orgasming with the thought of clev and carrick/scholes playing together.

  4. RedUnited

    6 February 2012 at 06:13

    It was a good game to watch.. But IMO.. we need to find a quality replacement for Scolsey… Mann.. He is a dynamite on the Mid field… He knows when to defend and when to attack.. Our Midfield became fluid with him around.. And yess,,,, He brings the best out of Carrick..If we buy in Summer.. den we need a replacement of scholes.. And some1 who can give Evra a competition for the starting spot.. Evra a few seasons back was amazziinn… i used to love his Runs and his temprament… But of lately.. he is caught sleeping… Chicharito shud be used as a Super Sub.. He has an eye for scoring late goals coming of the bench…
    But my question is regarding… Berbatov and Jones… Both are immensly talented and gifted individuals… but where can we use their talents for team’s benefit… Specially Jones… He is young and a fast learner.. he can be an asset if properly handled…

  5. Opti

    6 February 2012 at 08:06


    I was just reading up on ACTA bills passing through the courts of Europe and wondered how they may impact .

    If I put a link on here for a United clip or photo (say from footytube or RuTube, etc), does that put RedRants in violation of ACTA and what are the consequences?????

    • Daniele

      6 February 2012 at 10:47

      @Opti: I don’t think it violates any copyrights, as long as you don’t upload the picture/video directly. If you upload it through URL you should be fine

  6. Daniele

    6 February 2012 at 10:55

    I thought the scoreline flattered Chelsea. Ok, when we were 3-0 down I’d have definitely taken a draw but i thought we were by far the better team. I struggle to recall any of their chances, apart from Mata’s freekick and Cahill long range shot at the end.
    I went to the game and I thought my judgement might have been influenced by emotions running high but, when i watched the highlights, i realised that what i had noticed before – which is what i had noticed at the emirates as well – was right: these are probably the worst Chelsea/Arsenal of the last 4-5 seasons. We controlled the tempo for large parts of the game and Scholesy made the difference when he came on.
    To be honest though, even at 3-0 down i thought that if we could get one back we would be back in the game,as we always looked threatening going forward

    • RedDevilEddy

      6 February 2012 at 11:42

      @Daniele: You know when Luiz scored I was going like this in my head: “Alright, if we score in the next 10 minutes we can still win this”

      Repeat that for the next 30 minutes and that was me, I’ve been part of too many Manchester United comebacks in the past to have given it up. Always believed, and boy was it marvellous!

      By the way, I don’t think this was a poor Chelsea side. Yeah they didn’t dominate us, but Villas Boas really did a good job containing us for the first 55 minutes. I’ll get into it in the tactical review, but had Hernandez not come on I doubt that we would have ever scored. I mean, the man is a warrior! He changed the game for us, what was Chelsea’s downfall was that they didn’t have any plan B. They set out well, but part of the reason why United come back so often is because we are flexible as fuck. One change, and we were right back in it! 😈

      • Andrei

        6 February 2012 at 21:55

        @RedDevilEddy:Eddy, I have to disagree with on Chelsea. I’m not saying they were awful but this game clearly demonstrated why Chelsea are clinging to the 4th place instead of challenging for the title against United and City. They are undisciplined, make silly defensive mistakes, cannot finish off the games and their 50M striker Torres keeps misfiring. In this sense, I cannot take too many positives from the encounter. It was opportunity lost. It was two points lost rather than a point gained for United. United didn’t “surge back” the way they did in the first half after going one down. They were brought back by Chelsea gifting United two penalties that came out of blue (no pun intended). Chelsea of few years ago would never have allowed that. Drogba when he was at his best would have buried United at 3-2. This Chelsea were there for the taking but reds just blew their chance.

        • jos

          7 February 2012 at 11:37

          @Andrei: All good things must come to an end one day aint it. Similarly for Utd (the likes of Giggs,Scholes closing their careers, retirement of the likes of VDS, Neville etc). Similarly for Chelsea (the likes of Drogba, Cole etc getting old and losing their powers – inevitable). But it shouldnt be an excuse. You cant say Drogba when he was at his best or that player at his best. What you play with is what you got and what your manager manages to. Chelsea have done decent rebuilding – they got good, powerful midfielders in Essien, Mireles, Lampard, Ramires etc.

          Its times like these I truly appreciate what SAF has done! He has managed to assemble a squad where lot of players are comfortable in multiple roles! No other team in the world is like that! We have a Valencia who is great on the right wing and can also be deputized on the RB spot if needed – giving manager flexibility to substitute a tiring defender for an attacking player if required! How many teams can boast that!!! Then theres Jones who can play multiple positions, Rooney can, Welbz can, Nani can, Giggs can, Carrick can. Come to think of it, only Evra and Chico are one trick/one slot wonders! This kind of flexibility means, we are still around at the top despite such a long injury list to such important players we have had! Hats off to SAF.

          If only we could have won a CL or two more with such a team, SAF would have had his name written in gold in the football tactics books! No specialist players, no specialist formation to boot – makes for a team that can actually play any formation in the world! Barca can only play 4-3-3 (or they are trying 3-7-0 now but are not so successful with that), Real can only play 4-5-1 (an attacking one, which they cant change unless they substitute people)and so do Arsenal and so do City largely. Liverpool are going back to 4-4-2 (unsuccessfully) and are unable to change formations during play. None of top teams can change formations during play (to confuse opposition/viewers or to merely take a piss) as good as United! its incredible. That probably, is SAFs secret of success at United in the PL.

          Come to think of it, as good as his 94 or 99 teams were, they never dominated Europe as much as we have done in last 5 years! Then how come they were better than this generation? Isint that some food for thought???

    • Opti

      6 February 2012 at 18:55

      @Daniele: I saw MOTD highlights too and realized we we’re superior for 80/90 mins. However, 10 minutes of lapsed undid 80 mins of good work.

      We need to fix this ASAP!

  7. RedDevilEddy

    6 February 2012 at 11:46

    I know Fergie gets an AWFUL lot of stick by some of you guys, but credit given where credit is due. He changed the game for us yesterday by making two brave decisions, Hernandez and Scholes in for Rafael and Young was genious and it got us the draw. He’s had many of these during the years, last season it was bringing on Hernandez for Rooney that won us the game at Blackpool, and in the West Ham 4-2 comeback in April Giggs was shifted to left back with Evra coming off for Chicharito. The 5-2 win against Spurs in 2009 was because we put Tevez on for Nani, and even the 3-2 MACHEDAAAAAAAA win was largely because Kiko came on for the Lil Man. He does know how to come back from the dead that man, and he definately deserves credit for it.

    • Daniele

      6 February 2012 at 12:02

      @RedDevilEddy: Totally agree with you on that one mate. People often forget Fergie’s record of great subs, preferring to focus on the bad ones – such as Scholesy at Anfield last week. Solskjaer against Liverpool in ’99 anyone? Ole and Teddy Camp Nou ’99? And the list goes on.
      It’d be interesting to see what we can do with our squad getting back to full fitness. Obviously we’ll still miss Vida at the back but, to be fair, Evans has done well so far. I’m not his biggest fan but he’s unlucky in the sense that he’s a Carrick kind of player – a player that fans love to criticise and put the blame upon. He might not be the most talented CB you’ll ever see but, if you look at history, in years gone by we won the league because of players like Phil Neville and John O’Shea, lads ready to give 100% for the cause despite their technical shortcomings. Furthermore Evans had Torres in his pocket all game yesterday, apart from the only chance the transvestite had.

      • Nuevo

        6 February 2012 at 12:46

        @Daniele: That +1 is from me. and would give many more..just for this “…apart from the only chance the transvestite had” 🙂 🙂

      • Opti

        6 February 2012 at 18:57

        @Daniele: I think those sentiments regarding Evans were fitting last 2 years. Not this year. He has really improved a lot THIS SEASON, I think.

        I am off his back and onto Rio, now 😀

  8. RedDevilEddy

    6 February 2012 at 13:06

    I was never lucky enough to watch the Busby Babes live, actually I have never been able to watch any team managed by Sir Matt! I’ve watched some games, but I’ve always struggled to find a tape where I can watch the full 90-minutes, except for the ’68 European Cup final of course. But from what I’ve seen, read, and heard, the Busby Babes were something special. It saddens me that I am too young to have ever seen them play, but it really does say alot about our club. They belong in my heart, and this is a really sad day for me personally. I didn’t know any of those lads, yet they feel like some part of me. I love United, I love everything about this club, and in many ways the lads who died in Munich are a massive part of what makes Manchester United. I’ll be watching the time, in 2 hours time I’ll be having a one-minute silence for myself to remember those great lads who lost their lives 54 years ago. May God Bless their soul!

    Gone, but never forgotten, The Flowers of English football, The Flowers of Manhcester

  9. Stephen

    6 February 2012 at 13:34

    Credit where credit is due with Fergie and Rooney. Wazza showed great guts to take both pens and the Gaffer got his subs spot on.

    • RedDevilEddy

      6 February 2012 at 15:40

      @Stephen: Gotta agree, both penalties were spot on. The first one is what I would call the perfect penalty, impossible to save! It’s not often you see someone try to hit the ball high into the corner, it’s usually low and aimed… I don’t get why? Are people that afraid to miss? 😕 It’s funny to look at our penalties from Moscow and the Carling Cup final in 2009, out of the 12 penalties taken only Hargo and Anderson aimed high. Both scored.


    • Opti

      6 February 2012 at 19:02

      @Stephen: It was a great penalty; however, it looked like a mirror image of Hargo’s penalty in the Champions League Final against Chelsea/Cech in 2008.

      That’s the best penalty I have ever seen! #unstoppable

      Speaking of Hargo, looks like Mancini has given up on him too #fool
      Goodbye Hargo. I am sure you suffered with all the torture we put you up to. 🙄 🙄 🙄

  10. colver

    6 February 2012 at 16:11

    I don’t think we should write Hernandez off as only a super sub. He is one of those dream players who on his game only needs a single chance to score. Welbeck seems to need quite a few more.

    It is argued that Hernandez does not have the link up play. But when we are playing well through the centre IE Rooney, Scholes, Giggs, Carrick are all on form there is no need for a link man and all we need to do is to play the ball into the box knowing Hernandez will make the right run to get on the end of it.

    • Daniele

      6 February 2012 at 16:26

      @colver: I don’t think that anybody has been writing Hernandez off as only a super sub. If anything, i can’t believe the media bollocks about him having a “second year” syndrome. Give the lad a break, he’s got 8 league goals this season in 19 games of which only 12 were starts (if i’m correct). I think that Welbeck’s link up play is better than Chicha’s but, having said that, Chicha was brilliant yesterday when he came on – he did superbly well to set up Welbeck for the penalty incident and flicked a great ball to Rooney with his head, from which Wazza forced a good save.
      Personally i think that he doesn’t need to be caught offside so often, he’s way faster than any other players and he should try to stay onside a bit more. Playing off the last defender’s shoulder is a tricky game and i think he’s right up there with the best in the world in that respect

  11. Club Football Rankings

    6 February 2012 at 16:57

    The tie might have been better than a win, as United gain confidence –

  12. Yang

    6 February 2012 at 20:14

    It was actually very poor game from both teams. I am pretty sure Fergie and player feel disappointment. Too many defensive mistakes from team. I think playing Young was not a good idea. He has been injured for while. why do we need to play him like this intensive game. Two points behind City.

  13. Grognard

    7 February 2012 at 05:10

    I think I can safely speak for all of us in wish the great man Sir Bobby Charlton a speedy recovery after emergency gallstone surgery. Get well Sir Bobby.

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