Manchester United staged a stirring fightback from three goals down to earn a point against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Sir Alex Ferguson's champions are without a Premier League win at Chelsea in a decade - and they looked condemned to another defeat as Chelsea took total control early in the second half.
Jonny Evans's own goal gave Chelsea an interval lead against the run of play before a stunning volley from Juan Mata 24 seconds after the restart and David Luiz's deflected header appeared to give Chelsea an unassailable advantage.
United's hopes were then revived by two penalties awarded by referee Howard Webb - both converted by Wayne Rooney - before substitute Javier Hernandez's header six minutes from time gave them a point that was greeted in the manner of a victory by their travelling support.
Even then, United were indebted to much-maligned goalkeeper David de Gea for a magnificent save from Mata in the dying moments and another less spectacular - but equally important - fingertip stop from Chelsea debutant Gary Cahill.
The draw leaves United two points behind leaders Manchester City and this may ultimately be viewed as two points lost, but the point they gained could equally be taken as a bonus given Chelsea's three-goal lead.
DID YOU KNOW?
Chelsea had never previously failed to win a Premier League match which they led by at least three goals
It was also an indication that while United may not possess the all-round quality of old, they do have the persistence and experience to hound neighbours City all the way to the finishing line.
For Chelsea and manager Andre Villas-Boas, however, this was the opportunity to take a firmer grip on a place in the top four squandered as they looked defensively fragile without deposed England captain John Terry, who was out injured, and suspended Ashley Cole.
Terry's removal as England captain provided a sub-plot to the action as Rio Ferdinand was booed throughout. Terry is scheduled to stand trial in July on charges of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton, for which he has entered a not guilty plea.
United boss Ferguson was as animated as anyone in the opening exchanges, almost making his way on to the pitch in a rage when referee Webb failed to penalise Cahill as he tangled with Danny Welbeck on the edge of the area.
And as United continued to edge a cagey encounter, Branislav Ivanovic was forced into a crucial sliding tackle as Welbeck waited to turn in Rooney's inviting low cross.
So it was against the run of play that Chelsea took the lead nine minutes before the interval when Evans unwittingly deflected Daniel Sturridge's near-post cross beyond De Gea.
United's response was that of a team believing the scoreline was an injustice, with Chelsea keeper Petr Cech saving from Welbeck and Rooney in quick succession.
And United's pain increased inside a minute at the start of the second half when Fernando Torres's long cross was met sweetly at the far post Mata, whose magnificent volley flashed high and powerfully beyond the helpless De Gea.
Danny Mills, football analyst
"When Chelsea went 3-0 up you thought 'that is it, game over'. But, as we know, United never give up. They got back in it with a soft penalty and then got another one which for me was not a penalty. That could be a turning point for them in the season."
Chelsea seemed out of sight four minutes later when Luiz's header from a Mata free-kick took a decisive deflection off Ferdinand to wrong-foot De Gea and land in the top corner.
As Stamford Bridge started the celebrations, United responded and were back in business from the spot after 58 minutes.
Villas-Boas was furious, hurling a plastic bottle to the ground, when referee Webb pointed to the spot after Sturridge clumsily clashed with Patrice Evra, although his frustration may have been directed at his own player rather than the official.
Rooney scored emphatically and he was on the spot again when Webb decided Welbeck had been fouled by Ivanovic, although contact was minimal.
With Chelsea now protecting a narrow lead, and with the more defensive Oriol Romeu on for a dissatisfied-looking Sturridge, United sensed they could secure an unlikely point and it duly arrived in the closing stages.
Cech did superbly to claw away Rooney's effort, but when Ryan Giggs returned the loose ball from the left flank, Hernandez sent in a header that Chelsea's keeper touched but could not keep out.
Chelsea almost snatched back victory only to be denied by De Gea - and there was no doubt United's fans were the happier when Webb sounded the final whistle on an enthralling game.
- 01 Cech
- 02 Ivanovic Booked
- 04 David Luiz
- 17 Bosingwa
- 24 Cahill
- 05 Essien
- 15 Malouda
- 16 Meireles
- 09 Torres Booked
- 10 Mata
- 23 Sturridge (Romeu - 70' )
- 22 Turnbull
- 19 Ferreira
- 27 Hutchinson
- 34 Bertrand
- 06 Romeu
- 35 Piazon
- 18 Lukaku
- 01 De Gea
- 03 Evra Booked
- 05 Ferdinand
- 06 Evans
- 21 Rafael (Scholes - 63' )
- 11 Giggs
- 16 Carrick
- 18 Young (Hernandez - 53' )
- 25 Valencia
- 10 Rooney
- 19 Welbeck (Park Ji-sung - 86' )
- 40 Amos
- 20 Fabio
- 13 Park Ji-sung
- 22 Scholes
- 42 Pogba
- 09 Berbatov
- 14 Hernandez
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.90:00 +4:25
Corner taken right-footed by Raul Meireles.90:00 +4:09
Gary Cahill takes a shot. Save made by David De Gea.90:00 +3:31
The referee blows for offside against Javier Hernandez. Free kick taken by Petr Cech.90:00 +2:51
Effort on goal by Michael Carrick from 20 yards. Save made by Petr Cech.90:00 +2:17
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs from the left by-line.90:00 +1:37
The ball is sent over by Michael Essien, comfortable save by David De Gea.90:00 +1:06
Outswinging corner taken by Raul Meireles from the right by-line played to the near post, Ryan Giggs makes a clearance.90:00 +0:11
David Luiz fouled by Paul Scholes, the ref awards a free kick. Juan Mata fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick, David De Gea makes a save.87:55
Corner taken by Raul Meireles from the right by-line.87:50
A cross is delivered by Florent Malouda, Rio Ferdinand manages to make a clearance.87:10
Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Essien on Paul Scholes. Paul Scholes restarts play with the free kick.86:12
Raul Meireles produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.85:11 Substitution
Substitution Ji-Sung Park is brought on as a substitute for Danny Welbeck.83:33
Assist on the goal came from Ryan Giggs.83:33 Goal scored
Goal! - Javier Hernandez - Chelsea 3 - 3 Man Utd Javier Hernandez finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close in. Chelsea 3-3 Man Utd.83:27
Antonio Valencia sends in a cross, Wayne Rooney takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Petr Cech makes a save.82:15
Ryan Giggs challenges Raul Meireles unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Gary Cahill.81:12
Corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs, Header from close in by Danny Welbeck misses to the left of the target.81:07
The ball is swung over by Patrice Evra, clearance by Branislav Ivanovic.
Drilled right-footed shot by Danny Welbeck. Blocked by David Luiz.76:32
Effort from just outside the area by Florent Malouda goes over the target.75:05
The ball is crossed by Florent Malouda, Effort on goal by Michael Essien from 20 yards. David De Gea makes a save. Juan Mata takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Danny Welbeck.73:50
Javier Hernandez produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the target.73:00
Shot from just outside the box by Michael Essien misses to the right of the target.72:18
Antonio Valencia crosses the ball, clearance made by Michael Essien.71:56
Ryan Giggs decides to take the corner short.69:35
Raul Meireles delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing.69:35 Substitution
Substitution Oriol Romeu is brought on as a substitute for Daniel Sturridge.69:35
Antonio Valencia gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Florent Malouda.69:15
The assist for the goal came from Danny Welbeck.68:33
Danny Welbeck provided the assist for the goal.68:33 Goal scored
Goal! - Wayne Rooney - Chelsea 3 - 2 Man Utd Wayne Rooney scores a placed penalty. Chelsea 3-2 Man Utd.67:43
Danny Welbeck fouled by Branislav Ivanovic, the ref awards a Penalty.66:51
Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save made by Petr Cech.65:49
Wayne Rooney produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the target.65:24
Juan Mata produces a drilled left-footed shot from 20 yards. David De Gea makes a save.64:17
The ball is swung over by Antonio Valencia, Branislav Ivanovic manages to make a clearance.64:06
Michael Essien has a drilled shot. Blocked by Antonio Valencia.63:25
Foul by Ryan Giggs on Raul Meireles, free kick awarded. Petr Cech restarts play with the free kick.62:57 Substitution
Substitution Paul Scholes replaces Rafael Da Silva.62:37
Centre by Rafael Da Silva.60:19
Antonio Valencia gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jose Bosingwa. David Luiz takes the direct free kick.60:01
Daniel Sturridge has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.58:29
Antonio Valencia gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jose Bosingwa. Petr Cech takes the free kick.57:29
Assist on the goal came from Patrice Evra.57:29 Goal scored
Goal! - Wayne Rooney - Chelsea 3 - 1 Man Utd Power penalty scored by Wayne Rooney. Chelsea 3-1 Man Utd.56:42
Unfair challenge on Patrice Evra by Daniel Sturridge results in a Penalty.55:07
Javier Hernandez is flagged offside by the assistant referee. David Luiz takes the free kick.54:34
Antonio Valencia challenges Jose Bosingwa unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by David Luiz.53:20
Fernando Torres is ruled offside. Free kick taken by David De Gea.52:57
Javier Hernandez is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Petr Cech.52:01 Substitution
Substitution Ashley Young goes off and Javier Hernandez comes on.49:59
Assist on the goal came from Juan Mata.49:59 Goal scored
Goal! - David Luiz - Chelsea 3 - 0 Man Utd David Luiz scores a headed goal from close in. Chelsea 3-0 Man Utd.49:33
Juan Mata crosses the ball,49:33 Booking
Booking Patrice Evra is given a yellow card.49:25
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Daniel Sturridge by Patrice Evra.48:12
Effort from just outside the area by Raul Meireles goes over the target.47:22
Michael Essien sends in a cross, Headed effort on goal by Fernando Torres from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the goal.45:23
Fernando Torres provided the assist for the goal.45:23 Goal scored
Goal! - Juan Mata - Chelsea 2 - 0 Man Utd Goal scored by Juan Mata from close range high into the middle of the goal. Chelsea 2-0 Man Utd.45:21
Fernando Torres crosses the ball,45:01
The referee gets the second half started.45:00 +2:34 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.45:00 +2:00
Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save made by Petr Cech. Corner taken short by Ashley Young.45:00 +1:08
Foul by Juan Mata on Ryan Giggs, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Giggs.45:00 +0:22
Free kick taken by Rio Ferdinand.45:00 +0:22 Booking
Booking Caution for Branislav Ivanovic.45:00 +0:19
Free kick awarded for a foul by Branislav Ivanovic on Ashley Young.43:51
Branislav Ivanovic concedes a free kick for a foul on Patrice Evra. Free kick taken by Ryan Giggs.42:03
Ashley Young produces a cross.41:43
Centre by Ashley Young, clearance made by David Luiz.40:23
Antonio Valencia decides to take the corner short.40:07
Danny Welbeck takes a shot. Petr Cech makes a save.38:06
Ashley Young has a drilled shot. Petr Cech makes a save.37:54
Centre by Patrice Evra, Raul Meireles makes a clearance.37:45
The ball is sent over by Ashley Young, David Luiz makes a clearance.36:36
Shot by Daniel Sturridge. David De Gea makes a save.35:11
Assist by Daniel Sturridge.35:11 Goal scored
Goal! - Jonathan Evans - Chelsea 1 - 0 Man Utd Jonathan Evans scores an own goal from 6 yards. Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd.34:01
Juan Mata fouled by Ashley Young, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Michael Essien.32:26
Branislav Ivanovic gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney. Free kick taken by Rio Ferdinand.30:23
David De Gea takes the direct free kick.30:23 Booking
Booking Fernando Torres goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.30:17
Jonathan Evans fouled by Fernando Torres, the ref awards a free kick.29:18
The ball is sent over by Wayne Rooney, blocked by Jose Bosingwa.28:22
Corner taken by Ashley Young from the left by-line played to the near post, Florent Malouda makes a clearance.26:04
Foul by Florent Malouda on Rafael Da Silva, free kick awarded. Rafael Da Silva takes the direct free kick.25:19
The assistant referee signals for offside against Ashley Young. Indirect free kick taken by Petr Cech.24:08
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Juan Mata by Patrice Evra. Juan Mata delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel, David De Gea makes a save.23:15
Florent Malouda fouled by Rafael Da Silva, the ref awards a free kick. Florent Malouda takes the free kick.22:22
Unfair challenge on Rafael Da Silva by Jose Bosingwa results in a free kick. David De Gea takes the free kick.20:12
Shot from just outside the penalty box by Fernando Torres misses to the left of the target.19:01
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Michael Carrick by Fernando Torres. Michael Carrick restarts play with the free kick.17:54
Ashley Young gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Fernando Torres. Free kick crossed right-footed by Raul Meireles from left channel, Rafael Da Silva makes a clearance.17:33
A cross is delivered by Juan Mata, save by David De Gea.16:16
Shot from 20 yards from Ashley Young. Raul Meireles gets a block in.16:04
A cross is delivered by Ryan Giggs, David Luiz makes a clearance.13:25
Unfair challenge on Branislav Ivanovic by Ashley Young results in a free kick. Petr Cech takes the direct free kick.11:36
The official flags Danny Welbeck offside. Petr Cech takes the free kick.9:17
Jose Bosingwa takes a shot. Save made by David De Gea.8:13
Handball by Ashley Young. Michael Essien restarts play with the free kick.7:57
Shot by Wayne Rooney. Blocked by Jose Bosingwa.6:49
Raul Meireles produces a right-footed shot from outside the penalty box and misses left.6:28
Florent Malouda takes a shot. Blocked by Antonio Valencia.5:59
Corner taken by Juan Mata played to the near post. Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Raul Meireles.5:33
Daniel Sturridge takes a shot. Blocked by Patrice Evra.4:14
A cross is delivered by Daniel Sturridge, save by David De Gea.3:03
Fernando Torres concedes a free kick for a foul on Jonathan Evans. Free kick taken by David De Gea.0:54
Foul by Michael Essien on Patrice Evra, free kick awarded. Wayne Rooney shoots direct from the free kick.0:35
Jose Bosingwa concedes a free kick for a foul on Antonio Valencia. Free kick taken by Antonio Valencia.0:00
The match begins.
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