Manchester United vs. Chelsea: Juan Mata Goal, Rafael Red Card, David Luiz Laugh

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 05:  Ryan Giggs of Manchester United appeals to the linesman after David Luiz of Chelsea goes to ground during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on May 5, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United and Chelsea fought out a relatively low-key match at Old Trafford on Sunday, with all the main action being condensed into the final three minutes or so of the game.

It was not until the 87th minute that the away side finally took the lead, a low Juan Mata shot being slightly deflected past United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, before right-back Rafael was shown a straight red card for aiming a blatant kick at Chelsea's David Luiz.

Luiz himself didn't escape criticism for the incident, after he was pictured laying on the grass laughing after the kick, much to the chagrin of United fans.

A cagey and at times scrappy game lacked any real flow for much of the 90 minutes, and with Manchester United already safe in their place on top of the Premier League it was up to visitors Chelsea to make most of the running to try and take three points to boost their Champions League places push.

They certainly had the better of the game statistically, in terms of both shots and possession, and they would have rued not making better use of the ball had they not found a late winner, with United having rested several players from the usual starting lineup.

With just three minutes left on the clock, a quick move down the inside right channel involving Ramires and Oscar was eventually worked left to Mata, and his low shot struck the shin of Phil Jones before beating Lindegaard and finding the inside netting of the far post.

There was barely time for United to muster the energy to find a reply, let alone the chances to go with it, but Chelsea celebrated as though they were on the verge of a title win themselves, so important was the goal in relation to their top-four ambitions.

Two minutes later, though, the game was certainly over as a contest as United were reduced to 10 men.

Rafael aimed a stupid kick at Luiz's legs right in front of the assistant referee, which led to a group of around 10 players surrounding referee, before he eventually brought out the red card in Rafael's direction.

Meanwhile the cameramen were busy at work showing Luiz's reaction, as he grinned up from the ground.

The incident made little difference to the end result as Chelsea ran out 1-0 winners, but the impending three-match ban for Rafael will mean he misses the end of this campaign and the start of the next. For Chelsea, though, they rise to third in the league table, three points clear of fifth-place Spurs—who they face in an all-important clash at Stamford Bridge on May 8.


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