Sir Alex Ferguson exploded in fury at referee Martin Atkinson on Tuesday night and questioned his integrity after seeing Manchester United slump to defeat at Chelsea and miss the chance to take a firm grip on the title race.
Frank Lampard scored the winner from a disputed penalty but Ferguson was most angry that David Luiz escaped a red card after a cynical foul on Wayne Rooney, who opened the scoring with a 25-yard screamer.
Chelsea 2 Manchester United 1: Fergie calls for justice! Referee is target for outrage after Lampard penalty winner Fly past: Rooney takes a tumble after contact with the beaten David Luiz
Luiz had earlier equalised with a terrific volley and it was United who finished with 10 men after NemanjaVidic was sent off for second booking - leaving United with a defensivecrisis for Sunday's trip to Liverpool.
'You want a fair ref,' fumed Fergusonon MUTV. 'I don't know how he got this game. When I saw who was refereeing it, I did fear the worst. It's been three years in a row now down here.'
Ferguson's comments will risk an FA misconduct charge and touchline ban, especially as he has previous with Atkinson, clashing with him after an FA Cup defeat at home to Portsmouthin 2008.
The same referee was also in charge when United lost at Stamford Bridge last season and the United boss disputed the free-kick which led to John Terry's winning goal.
Flying again: Lampard jumps for joy after scoring the winner from the spot to put Chelsea fourth
Despite conceding before the kick-offthat Rooney was lucky to play after escaping a ban for an elbow on Wigan's James McCarthy on Saturday, Ferguson was quick to accuse Atkinson of letting Luiz off the hook. The Brazilian was already in the book when he made bad challenges on Rooney and Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez.
Ferguson said: 'I don't know how he'son the pitch. He's done Chicharito off the ball. Nothing's done and thereferee's in front of it. He's done Rooney, clear as day, and he's six yards from him. Doesn't do anything. These decisions change the game. You hope you get a really strong referee in games like this. And we didn't get that. The penalty was so soft - deary, deary me.'
Bitter pill to swallow: The United manager hit out at referee Atkinson after the final whistle
Ferguson claimed he did not have a clear view of the second yellow card which led to a red for Vidic but said Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea, 12 points adrift of his team, could win still the title if they continue to benefit from lenientofficials.
'If they keep getting decisions like tonight, it could change everything,' said the United boss. Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti wasn't so sure. 'It's too far,' he said. 'But this victory is important for us and our confidence. We were able to stay focused even when we were losing 1-0, and showed strength, power and intensity in the second half.'
United are four points clear of Arsenal at the top but have played a game more and face a stern test at Liverpool without Vidic, who is suspended, and Rio Ferdinand, who will not be back from injury. Wes Brown and Chris Smalling are likely to playin central defence.
Lucky Luiz: The Chelsea defender celebrates his first goal for the club but he was fortunate not to see red
One item of consolation for United was Ryan Giggs, who came on as a substitute to equal Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 606 League appearances.
'He's a phenomenal man,' said Ferguson. 'He deserves all the accolades because he's an example to the game and to any young player.'
Meanwhile, Roberto Mancini has accused the FA of giving special treatment to United after Rooney's escape for the elbow on McCarthy.
'I was surprised (that Rooney escaped punishment),' said Mancini. 'Do United get special treatment? It's not that the referee wants to make a mistake on purpose but it is normal that the bigger clubs get different treatment to the smaller ones.'
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Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, John Terry, James McCarthy, Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Roberto Mancini, Frank Lampard, Carlo Ancelotti, Martin Atkinson Places: Liverpool, Manchester