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This was another genuine classic Premier League encounter between the two sides who have dominated the league for the past decade, but it is one which will always be remembered for an infamous miss.
Chris Smalling put the champions in front after just eight minutes with a header that should have been ruled out for offside before Nani compounded Chelsea's misery with a veritable rocket of a strike.
Wayne Rooney then made it 3-0 with a simple finish just before the break, but Fernando Torres gave the Blues hope when he met Nicolas Anelka's reverse pass and lifted the ball over David de Gea with a classy finish. It was the predatory Torres of old as he scored only his second ever goal for Chelsea.
Andre Villas-Boas' side were given a further boost when Rooney slipped and missed a penalty in a style eerily reminiscent of John Terry's miss during the shootout of the Champions League final between these two clubs three years earlier.
Even at 3-1 the game still seemed to be in the balance, with Chelsea as likely to score twice and level the match as United were of netting twice themselves to take the game away from their opponents.
But that all changed on 84 minutes when Torres skipped around De Gea and had the open goal gaping in front of him only to skew his left-footed shot into the Stretford End.
Had it gone in, Chelsea might have gone on to claim a result and Torres could have rediscovered his best form. But, for now, we are all still waiting for that to happen.