[Premier League] Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United
Chelsea: Samuel Eto'o (17, 45, 49)
ManUtd: Javier Hernandez (78)
Manchester United left Stamford Bridge empty-handed after Samuel Eto'o's hat-trick had put Chelsea three goals ahead just four minutes into the second half. Substitute Javier Hernandez pulled one back with 12 minutes remaining, but a bad day for United was complete when captain Nemanja Vidic was shown a straight red card late on following a lunge on Eden Hazard.
The Reds dominated the opening passages of play and could have been ahead when Ashley Young, playing on the left after a spell out with injury, forced goalkeeper Petr Cech into a low save. But United were unlucky in conceding the first goal, when Eto'o eluded Phil Jones to cut in from the right and shot goalwards, the ball hitting Michael Carrick's foot to loop up and over the stranded David De Gea.
David Moyes' men took their time to get back into the game but did carve out more chances before the hammer blow of Eto'o's second. Adnan Januzaj was the main threat, but Danny Welbeck's shot straight at Cech from six yards, having been found by Januzaj, proved telling when the Blues doubled the lead just before half-time.
Ramires collected a cleared corner to feed Gary Cahill on the right, and the defender's cut back was clinically despatched by the Cameroon striker. The break provided little respite for the Reds, who fell three behind when De Gea parried a Cahill header only for the lurking Eto'o to poke the ball home from point-blank range.
Javier Hernandez provided much-needed spark from the bench, reducing the arrears when diverting Jones' low effort past Cech. But there were no late heroics, only Vidic given his marching orders from referee Phil Dowd in stoppage time, compounding the day's disappointment with an instant three-game ban.
The Match Samuel Eto'o came back to haunt United, four-and-a-half years after opening the scoring for Barcelona in the Champions League final defeat in Rome, with a hat-trick that condemned United to defeat in west London. And yet – as in that final – it had all looked so different early on, with the Reds forcing chances and keeping the ball so well that the home fans were just beginning to get edgy when their lone front man seized upon Chelsea's first real chance of the game. Understandably shaken, the Reds took time to go at the hosts again, but two smart finishes from Eto'o either side of the break took the game away. David Moyes' substitutions provided impetus, with Javier Hernandez's goal-poacher's strike 12 minutes from time raising hopes slightly, but the task was too great and Nemanja Vidic's dismissal for a challenge on Eden Hazard capped a frustrating afternoon. While Vidic's red card was slightly harsh, on another day Rafael may have followed his skipper down the tunnel for a lunge on Gary Cahill.
The Goals When things aren't going your way, goals like Chelsea's first just make matters worse. United's bright start came to an abrupt halt when Samuel Eto'o unleashed a shot that looped over David De Gea off Michael Carrick's outsretched foot. For his second, the Cameroon striker showed off his predatory instincts to bury the ball past De Gea from close range and his hat-trick was completed when Eto'o tapped home a close-range rebound after Cahill had forced a save from the keeper. Chicharito showed keen reactions to touch Jones' shot past Cech for what turned out to be a consolation effort.
Star man Adnan Januzaj's lively display provided a bright spark for United. He played up front, ahead of Danny Welbeck, in the early stages and the problems he posed for John Terry and Gary Cahill show that playing as a striker is not beyond his considerable talents. Fear is something the 18-year-old is not familiar with, and the Reds will need his relentlessness to help in a swift return to winning ways.
Sub-plots Januzaj and Danny Welbeck battled valiantly where Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie would have played if fully fit. They acquitted themselves well, but Welbeck will rue the great opportunity he put at Cech with United only one goal down.
Opposition At 1-0, Jose Mourinho was probably not the happier of the two managers, his side having taken a while to get out of the blocks until Eto'o's opener. But 2-0 put a different complexion on things, and with Stamford Bridge rocking after the resumption in the second half, the third goal gave the hosts breathing space.
Move of the Match Januzaj showed great strength, and strength of character, to shake off the ever-present physical threat from David Luiz to centre the ball from the left byline in the first half, but sadly there was no-one there to finish it off.
In the Stands The familiar "Sit down Mourinho" chant came from United's fans early on as the Blues boss prowled the technical area in front of the dugout. Jose, ever charismatic, turned towards the Shed End, smiled, waved and gave the Red army cheery thumbs up. Elsewhere, as has become customary in these fixtures, John Terry's name was sung more by United fans than Chelsea's. Even though he was on the winning side today, they still won't let him forget that penalty miss in Moscow. The United fans, as they have been all season away, were vocal throughout regardless of the final outcome.