Chelsea had two points a snatched away from them in dramatic fashion at Old Trafford this evening as Robin Van Persie rammed home a late, late equaliser to prevent the
Londoners extending their lead at the top of the Premier League.
With just seconds left of the four added minutes, and Chelsea leading through a Didier Drogba second half header, the Dutchman took advantage of a wary Chelsea defence which just had seen Branislav Ivanovic sent off for a second yellow card.
The United faithful celebrated the final whistle as if they had won the match, but it was out of relief. Chelsea should have won having the better of a stalemate of a first half, and dominating the second.
Chelsea settled the quicker of the two, with two corners in the opening four minutes, but United, on the counter attack, almost squeezed the ball home with Marouane Fellaini and the Robin Van Persie having excellent half chances.
Tension seemed to take hold with wayward passes accounting for the break down of many of the moves.
United right-back Raffael Da Silva was first into Phil Dowd's book, for a needless hauling back on Eden Hazard on 15 minutes.
Three minutes later, and from a Angel Di Maria curling free kick,Chris Smalling tried to arrow a glancing header from close range, towards goal, but only managed to head over Thibaut Courtois's crossbar.
Didier Drogba was given. Yellow by clipping Juan Mata in midfield. With both sides operating a counter attack policy, Van Persie found himself free in the Chelsea area on 24 minutes but Courtois was equal to the Netherland striker's effort.
Seven minutes from the break, Branislav Ivanovic was convinced that he was hauled down by Marcos Rojo In the United penalty area, after Cesc Fabregas sent in a deep free-kick. But Dowd ignored the Serbia defender's justified pleas.
The Blues should have Galen the lead two,minutes later when a long ball to Oscar saw the abrazo. Midfielder cut the ball back from the byline to Drogba. The striker hit the ball first time, forcing da I'd De Gea into a smart save.
Neither side made any change at half-time Chelsea's attempt to control possession showed that Jose Mourinho was unhappy with his side's careless use of the ball in the first half.
By and leave it worked early on, but the first chance of the restart went to Fellanini.
De Gea was soon in action blocking the ball from Hazard as the midfielder broke the offside trap. Maybe he took the shot too early but either way the ball went off for a corner.
But, from the resultant kick, by Fabregas, up popped Didier Drogba to head home at the near post to put the Londoners 1-0 on 52 minutes.
Certainly, Chelsea were doing more with the ball and Willian had a rasped of a 25-harder well held by increasingly under pressed De Gea.
Ivanovic burst through the United rearguard on 68 minutes but his byline cross was too strong for the in-running Willian and the ball sailed away to safety.
But while only 1-0, the chances of an equaliser was always close, Van Persie and the Di Maria both went close I the space of a minute with 12 left on the clock. Courtois kicked out Van Persie's effort while Di Maria went close with a left-footed daisy-cutter that inched past the Chelsea goalkeeper's right post.
To kill some time off at the end, Mourinho introduced Andre Schurrle for Hazard.
Deep,into the four minutes of added time, Ivanovic was shown a second yellow card for a foul and was handed a red card.
Fro the resultant free kick, the Blues failed to clear the ball and Van Persie tucked home a late, late equaliser.
Teams: Man Utd, De Gea, Da Silva, Shaw, Rojo, Di Maria, Mata, Januzaj, Smalling, Blind, Van Persie,Fellaini
Subs, Lindrgaard, Carrick, Herrera, Fletcher, Blackett, Pereira, Wilson
Chelsea, Courtois, Ivanovic, Luis, Fabregas, Oscar, Hazard, Drogba, Matic , Willian, Cahill, terry,
Subs, Cech, Zouma, Ake, Mikel, Schurrle, Salah, Baker