Didier Drogba scored a contentious match-winner as Chelsea toppled Manchester United from the Premier League summit Saturday with a 2-1 victory its first at Old Trafford in five years.
Drogba climbed off the bench to smash home the 79th minute-goal while in an offside position, but Chelsea completely overwhelmed United after going ahead through Joe Cole's flick in the 20th. United substitute Federico Macheda pulled one back two minutes after Drogba's goal, but it couldn't prevent Chelsea going two points clear of defending champion United in the title race with five matches to go.
Not since joining United in 2004 had Rooney missed a match against Chelsea and even Ferguson contemplated the prospect of losing in his program notes.
United lacked any punch in its play with Dimitar Berbatov isolated as the lone striker. And United will have to cope for at least two more weeks without Rooney. Berbatov had two openings in the first half: heading over from Antonio Valencia's cross in the ninth minute, while being denied by Frank Lampard's well-timed intervention just before half time when the Bulgarian spun to shoot after being fed by Park Ji-sung.
With United lacking sharpness, Chelsea orchestrated the opening exchanges. And the visitor landed the first blow when Florent Malouda powered down to the left byline and outmuscled Darren Fletcher before finding to space to square to Cole at the near post. And it was the substitutes who wrote the script for the closing exchanges. Didier Drogba, after receiving the ball from Kalou in an offside position, smashed the ball high into the net past Edwin van der Sar. United, though, responded inside two minutes via Macheda.