United stage stunning fightback to draw at Chelsea
Manchester United staged a stunning fightback from three goals down as Javier Hernandez's late equaliser rescued a dramatic 3-3 draw against Chelsea in one of the games of the season at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Sir Alex Ferguson's team seemed to be heading for a heavy defeat as an own goal from United defender Jonny Evans gave Chelsea the lead late in the first half before Juan Mata and David Luiz added further goals for the Blues soon after the interval.
But Wayne Rooney finally sparked United into life with two penalties midway through the second half and the champions' frenzied pressure was rewarded when Mexican striker Hernandez headed home from a Ryan Giggs cross with six minutes left.
The draw leaves second-placed United two points behind leaders Manchester City, but the manner of their remarkable revival should provide a massive confidence boost as they try to overhaul their local rivals.
"It was a terrible start after half-time and it's not easy to come back from three down. It was a massive effort from our players," Ferguson said.
"Once we got over the goals after half-time we played really well. I was pleased with the players. We were by far the better team.
"For the neutral it was a great game but I thought it was two points dropped because we played so well."
Chelsea boss Villas-Boas added: "Of course it feels like a defeat. It isn't easy to take. It's a massive recovery from United.
It's a disappointment for us. We had it in our hands and let it slip.
"There were some strange decisions against us. The second penalty was very unlucky. I don't know if Howard Webb was trying to compensate for something."
Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge was the catalyst as his side took the lead in the 36th minute. His neat piece of skill took him past Patrice Evra on the left side of the United penalty area and he drove in a low cross that clipped David de Gea's foot before deflecting off Evans into the unguarded goal.
United, whose last league win at Stamford Bridge came 10 years ago, were further behind just 30 seconds after half-time when Fernando Torres whipped a cross to the far post for Spanish winger Mata to lash a sublime volley past de Gea.
Chelsea struck again five minutes later when Mata's teasing free-kick was met by Luiz and the Brazilian defender's header glanced in off Rio Ferdinand's shoulder.
Rooney gave United a lifeline when he drove home a penalty after Howard Webb ruled that Sturridge's 58th minute challenge on Evra was worthy of a spot-kick.
Suddenly United were rampant and Hernandez came off the bench to cap their comeback with a clinical close-range header from Giggs' cross in the 84th minute.
Earlier on Sunday, Senegal striker Papiss Demba Cisse enjoyed a dream debut for Newcastle as his second-half strike secured a 2-1 win against Aston Villa at St James' Park.
Alan Pardew's side took the lead through Cisse's compatriot Demba Ba, who marked his return from African Nations Cup duty with his 16th goal of the season in the 30th minute.
Robbie Keane, on loan from LA Galaxy, equalised for Villa deep into first half stoppage-time.
Cisse, who was only available due to Senegal's earlier than expected exit from the African Nations Cup, had come on as a first half replacement for the injured Leon Best.
He bagged the winner in his first appearance since his Â£10 million transfer from German club Freiburg with a powerful finish past Shay Given in the 71st minute.
The Magpies climbed above Arsenal into fifth place, one point behind fourth placed Chelsea, thanks to Cisse's heroics.
"I will remember this day because of the goal and I will work hard to get many more days like this," Cisse said.
"I didn't even think that it was a beautiful goal, I was just happy to see the ball cross the line."
Pardew added: "You need great players to turn games and it's a real bonus that Cisse got a goal on his debut.
"We've got dangerous strikers all over the place, we've got real firepower here."
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