Chelsea exacted some measure of revenge on Manchester United for last Sunday by dumping them out of the Capital One Cup in a round of sixteen tie. For the second time in three days, the two teams met at Stamford Bridge and while this time controversy was less in content than in the league encounter, there was a surplus of goals and excitement.
The visitors took the lead thrice in normal time only for the home team to peg them back on each occasion, the last of the levelers – an Eden Hazard penalty – coming in the fourth minute of the time added at the end. In extra time, Chelsea finally took firm control of the tie by scoring twice through Daniel Sturridge and Ramires before Ryan Giggs scored from the spot to reduce the deficit. At the end of a pulsating 120 minutes of cup football, the final score read Chelsea 5-4 Manchester United.
After all the kerfuffle surrounding the Mark Clattenburg’s performance on Sunday’s encounter, the official for this game, Lee Mason, was bound to be cynosure of all eyes. However, the man from Bolton coped admirably with the attention and got almost all the major decisions right including award of three spot kicks in the game.
Even then though, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo still sounded sour over the last weekend’s result which he perceived as an injustice.
“It’s not been the easiest few days we have had but we wanted to show tonight that Sunday’s game was heavily influenced by the officials.” – Di Matteo told BBC Sport.
The criticism aimed at Clattenburg probably betrayed the pressure Di Matteo has been put under not only due to the two defeats in a row (previous one being to Shakhtar Donetsk in Champions League) but also because of the seriousness of the charges being leveled at Clattenburg by the club.
But while Di Matteo heaped praise on the character displayed by his own players, particularly John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata, Sir Alex Ferguson bemoaned his team’s inability to see off the game in the closing stages of normal time and pointed the finger of blame towards one particular player.
“We gave the ball away for the third goal. We were in complete control of the match at that point, playing really good football and all we needed to do was see the game out and keep possession. Nani decided to try and beat a player, lost the ball and we ended up conceding a penalty kick.” – Ferguson told MUTV.
Such public admonishment had cast further doubt on the future of the Portuguese winger – who incidentally scored in the tie – at the club. It may just now be a matter of time, either January or at the end of the season, before the player is off to seek pastures anew.
Nani, however, was not the only player culpable for the defeat, as Ferguson admitted the gamble of playing two relatively inexperienced centre halves in Michael Keane and Scot Wootton – the latter conceded the late penalty and gave the ball away for Sturridge’s goal – cost his team dearly.
We took a gamble in terms of the centre-backs. It’s very difficult because one’s 19 [Michael Keane] and one’s 20 [Wootton]. It’s not easy.