By Chris Wright
Chelsea came from behind to register a 2-1 victory over rivals Manchester United at Stamford Bridge last night, with a smart half-volley from David Luiz (shades of Carvalho?) and an 80th-minute Frank Lampard penalty eventually cancelling out Wayne Rooney’s driven opener – though it was referee Martin Atkinson who bore the brunt of Sir Alex Ferguson’s wrath after the final whistle, after all, it’s not like United ever benefit from slack officiating is it?
Not only was left Ferguson seething over the ‘soft’ penalty awarded to Chelsea when Yuri Zhirkov paraded into an otherwise stationary Chris Smalling with ten minutes to play, the veteran Scot also singled out Luiz’s unceremonious buffeting of Javier Hernandez – claiming that the Brazilian centre-back should have received his second caution for the offence after already picking up a yellow card earlier in the game for obstructing Rooney.
“You want a fair referee – or a strong referee, anyway – and we didn’t get that. When I saw who the referee was I did fear it. I feared the worst.
“The penalty kick was so soft. Deary me. But we played very well. It was a great performance by us. We didn’t deserve that. That’s three years in a row (at Stamford Bridge) that referees’ decisions have changed the game.
“[The decision not to book Luiz for body-checking Hernandez] was incredible. Even before that he’d done Chicharito off the ball. He’d done him late. Nothing done, the referee’s in front of it.
“He does Rooney clear as day, [the referee is] six yards from it, he doesn’t do anything. That changed the game. These are decisions that change the game, and he’s going to be refereeing every week.
“I’m proud of the players, they’ve endured a lot of decisions against them but they’ve come through it, they’ve done their best. They didn’t deserve that.”
Asked if Chelsea were back in the title race after the win moved them back into the top four at the expense of Tottenham, Ferguson replied:
“If they get decisions like tonight then it can change everything. They got a lot of decisions tonight that surprised me.”
As the game wound down, Nemanja Vidic was dismissed for a second bookable offence in the third minute of injury time, leading the incensed Serb to briefly go head-to-head (literally) with referee Atkinson – an incident which appears to have been completely glossed over.
Any road up, Vidic will now miss United’s Premier League game against Liverpool on Sunday.
Any thoughts on the game peeps?
Manchester United fans plead with Ashley Cole not to open fire on them
Wayne Rooney drives the ball home from the edge of the area
Rooney celebrates the opening goal of the game
David Luiz checks on a prostrate Rooney after impeding his run
Ryan Giggs enters the fray and equals Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 606 league appearances for United in the process
Chris Smalling fells Yuri Zhirkov to hand Chelsea an 80th-minute penalty…
…which Frank Lampard duly crashes past Edwin van der Sar
Nemanja Vidic receives his marching orders deep into injury time
Photos courtesy of the PA.