Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United: Rating the Red Devils in Massive Win
The drama and passion of the Premier League was on full display at Stamford Bridge, as Manchester United sealed a somewhat controversial 3-2 win over table-toppers Chelsea to narrow the Blues' lead to just a single point.
Goals from Juan Mata and Ramires cancelled out an early own-goal from David Luiz and a neat finish from Robin van Persie, but it was super-sub Javier Hernandez who clinched an invaluable victory for the Red Devils with a late goal.
It will be referee Mark Clattenburg who will unfortunately dominate the headlines, though, as his decision to give Fernando Torres his marching orders was a contentious one to say the least.
Here are the full player ratings for United.
David De Gea: 7
Spanish shot-stopper extraordinaire David de Gea continues to improve in a United shirt—he made a couple of phenomenal saves to keep his team ahead late in the first half.
His unbelievable save to keep Torres out at one point was masterful. The keeper utilised his excellent reflexes to palm away the effort at point-blank range.
The rating takes into account the two he conceded, particularly Mata's free kick, which shouldn't have caught him out despite its accuracy.
Promising going forward, caught out of position at the back, it was the same old, same old for Brazilian full-back Rafael on Sunday.
Chelsea were afforded far too much space down his right flank, as he struggled to deal with the lively Eden Hazard and Oscar.
But it was he who assisted Hernandez's winner with a decent cross-cum-shot under pressure.
Rio Ferdinand: 6
In the face of a barrage of abuse directed at him from the Chelsea fans, Rio Ferdinand did well to maintain his composure for much of the game.
But he and Evans are still yet to form a comfortable partnership in defence, despite the two having to beat away cross after cross in the times when Chelsea's attacking football kept United on the back foot.
Jonny Evans: 6
In the wake of Nemanja Vidic's ongoing injury struggles and Rio Ferdinand's dwindling form, it seems odd to say, but Jonny Evans has become United's premier centre-back.
He wasn't at his very best Sunday but was staunch in the way he marshalled Fernando Torres for much of the game.
With Chris Smalling nearing a return to fitness, one has to believe that it will be Rio who makes way in the starting lineup if a change is to be made.
Patrice Evra: 5
It was a shame that Patrice Evra's performance against Chelsea was poor Sunday, as it had seemed, for at least the past couple of weeks, that a return to form may have been on the cards for the Frenchman.
But against the Blues, his positioning was pretty dire as he allowed runners around and in behind him far too often.
Going forward, he lacked the pace to trouble the Blues' back line.
Tom Cleverley: 5
United's young midfield maestro Tom Cleverley was unusually anonymous against Chelsea and was an easy withdrawal for Javier Hernandez on the hour.
Played in a less comfortable deeper role, the Englishman couldn't keep up with the brisk revolving trio of Oscar, Hazard and Mata, not offering nearly enough protection for the defence.
Michael Carrick: 6
The familiar traits are slowly returning to Michael Carrick's game, as he seeks to recover from some poor early-season performances.
Sitting just in front of the United defence, the holding midfielder did a decent job in typically unassuming style.
He is surely the only central midfielder in the United squad that Sir Alex never hesitates to play in the Red Devils' biggest games.
Antonio Valencia: 7
Antonio Valencia's performance Sunday was also very hit-and-miss.
A constant thorn in the side of an exploited Ashley Cole, the winger set up Van Persie with an excellent driven cross for his team's second early in the game.
But some terrible finishing and disappointing crosses on his part prevented United from increasing their lead in the waning moments of the game.
Ashley Young: 6
One could excuse Ashley Young's flawed display against Chelsea, considering this was his first start since returning from injury.
Less of a threat on the left flank than Valencia on the right, Young was, however, involved in the game's turning point a little over an hour in, as his breakaway run enticed Branislav Ivanovic into a last-man foul.
Ninety minutes will be useful for United's only out-and-out left winger.
Wayne Rooney: 6
Despite a buccaneering display that continued to justify his new midfield role, Wayne Rooney made some careless mistakes Sunday that could have easily cost his team the win.
It was he who foolishly upended Eden Hazard on the edge of United's penalty area leading up to Mata's goal from the subsequent free kick.
Withdrawn by Sir Alex with 15 minutes to play, Rooney was lucky to avoid being given his marching orders moments earlier for a late lunge on John Obi Mikel.
Robin Van Persie: 8
Manchester United's most influential player in attack for much of the 90 minutes, Robin van Persie continued to justify Sir Alex's decision to shell out £24 million for his services in the summer.
The Dutchman's goal was a neat finish past Cech—his only real chance of the game.
But perhaps his most telling impact on the match came when he swivelled on the halfway line, before releasing Ashley Young moments before Ivanovic's ill-advised tackle.
Javier Hernandez: 8
What more can you say about this lad?
The Ole Gunnar Solskjaer-inspired super-sub Javier Hernandez scored his second late winner in less than a week, mere minutes after his introduction to the fray at Stamford Bridge.
His goal was a deserved reward for an energetic, dogged cameo that helped shift the momentum back United's way.
Ryan Giggs also played the final fifteen minutes or so and was effective in controlling possession for a United team in the ascendancy.
What did you make of United's performance? Who were the stars of the game?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!