Rafael Benitez’s effective substitutions helped Chelsea complete a spectacular comeback from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup Quarter-Finals.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were 2-0 up after just eleven minutes thanks to goals from Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney, but Eden Hazard came off the bench to pull one back with a stunning curling effort.
Ramires raced onto a counter-attack to make it 2-2 before David De Gea denied Juan Mata from six yards on the 90th minute, sealing a replay to be played at Stamford Bridge.
United made the perfect start, taking the lead inside five minutes. Michael Carrick’s stunning disguised cross allowed Hernandez to connect with a looping header that embarrassed Petr Cech and landed in the top corner for the Mexican’s seventh goal in ten games against the West London team.
Just six minutes later, the Premier League leaders had a second goal. Rooney’s free-kick from 25 yards didn’t touch anybody as it ran through and fell into the bottom corner, leaving Cech red-faced again. It’s the England international’s twelfth goal in thirteen starts and United had gotten the disappointing UEFA Champions League defeat to Real Madrid out of their system.
Frank Lampard has a stunning chance to pull one back for the Blues after Mata’s intelligent run allowed the former West Ham United midfielder to fire at goal, but his shot was weak and easy for De Gea to gobble up. It was end-to-end stuff though, with Hernandez volleying wide from Nani’s cross when he should have been hitting the target.
Cech had a point to prove in the Chelsea goal after his mistakes for the opening strikes, and he provided a stunning double save to keep his side in the game. Rooney’s powerful shot was parried away, but a deflection from David Luiz sent the ball back goalwards only for Cech to claw it away in the the nick of time. Just after, he acrobatically kept out Tom Cleverley’s stinging effort as United continued to pile on the pressure.
After half-time, Ramires should have done better after a surging run, but pulled his shot well wide. Fortunately for Chelsea, substitute Hazard had ideas to get his side level. He cut inside onto his right foot before bending the ball perfectly into the top corner, leaving De Gea helpless to just stand and watch. The momentum was with Chelsea now.
They took that momentum to get an equaliser. Demba Ba led the counter-attack, before sliding the ball across to Mata. The former Valencia man played the perfect pass to find Ramires’ unstoppable running, and the Brazilian rolled the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot, completing the turnaround.
It could have been better for Chelsea as Mata wriggled away from Jonny Evans, and as he looked destined to score, De Gea stuck out a left leg to deny his compatriot and make sure both teams are in the hat for the semi-final draw.
Game: Manchester United 2-2 Chelsea
Date: 10th March 2013
Stadium: Old Trafford
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Kyle Dixon