Blues keep title dream alive
Chelsea put a dent in Manchester United's Barclays Premier League title bid and reignited their own hopes of a top-four finish with a hugely controversial 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
The champions came from behind to claim all three points thanks to a first goal for the club for £25million David Luiz and a highly contentious Frank Lampard penalty.
The winner also came after David Luiz avoided a second yellow card for a cynical foul on Wayne Rooney, who had given United a half-time lead, while United's night got worse when Nemanja Vidic was sent off in stoppage-time.
It was end-to-end stuff from the start and Florent Malouda missed a great chance to put Chelsea ahead in the fifth minute when he fired Nicolas Anelka's cross straight at Edwin van der Sar. Patrice Evra drilled a wicked ball across the box which evaded everyone and Anelka dragged a shot wide as the relentless pace continued.
United cranked up the pressure and Rooney miscued a header before demonstrating everything that is good about his game in the 29th minute. The striker was given far too much space to turn on the edge of the box but still needed to unleash a blistering low drive to beat Cech at the goalkeeper's near post.
Chelsea should have been level five minutes before the break. Evra was controversially penalised for obstructing Fernando Torres and Lampard lashed a free-kick parried by Van der Sar straight into Branislav Ivanovic and again by the keeper into Vidic on the line before the ball was cleared.
But if Chelsea had gone to sleep for Rooney's goal, United did the same as Luiz levelled in the 54th minute. Michael Essien was allowed to cross from the left, Ivanovic beat Vidic in the air, and the ball fell for a completely-unmarked Luiz to lash home first time.
Luiz was lucky not to pick up a second yellow for cynically tripping Rooney off the ball, much to Sir Alex Ferguson's fury. The United manager's mood darkened moments later when Martin Atkinson awarded Chelsea a controversial penalty.
Chris Smalling was adjudged to have tripped Yuri Zhirkov and Lampard stepped up to smash the spot-kick into the roof of the net with 10 minutes remaining.
Cech needed to be alert to save at the feet of Fabio but United went into meltdown in stoppage-time. A frustrated Ryan Giggs was carded as the home side ran down the clock before Vidic was sent off for a second bookable offence after hauling back Ramires.