Man United tumble off Bridge for third time
Frank Lampard completed Chelsea's second-half fightback against Manchester United from the penalty spot Tuesday, securing a 2-1 victory to prevent the Premier League leaders from surging further ahead in the title race.
Lampard's 80th-minute goal after Yuri Zhirkov was tripped by defender Chris Smalling lifted Chelsea up one place to fourth in the standings, 12 points behind Man United but with a match in hand. "We've still got some fight in us and we showed that tonight," Lampard said.
Winning the Champions League and securing one of the four spots to qualify for the competition next season are Chelsea's main targets. A second successive domestic title is still unlikely despite inflicting only United's second league loss of the season. "It is too far (the gap) and we are not able to fix this and arrive at the top," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "But this victory is important for our confidence."
A third successive league loss to Chelsea leaves United four points in front of second-place Arsenal having played an extra game. United had been on course for its first league win at Stamford Bridge in nine years at halftime, with the visitors in control of a high-intensity encounter.
But David Luiz started the defending champions' comeback in the 54th, volleying in his first goal for Chelsea to cancel out Wayne Rooney's first-half opener.
United captain Nemanja Vidic was sent off in stoppage time after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Ramires, ruling the center back out of Sunday's match against Liverpool. United manager Alex Ferguson left Stamford Bridge fuming that Luiz hadn't been sent off before referee Martin Atkinson awarded Chelsea's penalty. The Brazilian defender collided with Rooney in a foul that wasn't given while already on a yellow card. "You want a fair referee _ or a strong referee, anyway _ and we didn't get that," Ferguson said. "I don't know why he has got the game. I must say, when I saw who the referee was I did fear it. I feared the worst.
"The Luiz foul was six yards in front of the referee, maybe eight if we give him the benefit of the doubt. No obstructions, whatsoever. I don't know how he stayed on the pitch. And the penalty was very soft. In actual fact, Chris has taken the ball and the player's left his leg in. Very soft. Amazing."
Ferguson was fortunate, though, to have Rooney available to select an unchanged side for the first time in 165 matches. The England striker escaped punishment for elbowing an opponent in an off-the-ball incident in Saturday's match at Wigan.