Drogba, van Persie ensure Chelsea, Man Utd share the points
MAN UNITED 1
(Robin van Persie 90+3)
(Didier Drogba 53)
They both had points to prove, and they both ended the match with their heads held high.
In a thrilling 1-1 draw at Old Trafford this morning (Singapore time), Chelsea's Didier Drogba and Manchester United's Robin van Persie stole the show.
At the grand old age of 36, Didier Drogba rolled back the years with an exquisite 53rd-minute header to put Chelsea 1-0 up against the hosts.
If not for an injury to striker Diego Costa, the Ivorian would have been warming the bench in chilly Manchester.
How he repaid manager Jose Mourinho's faith, in his first Premiership start of the season, with the goal that almost broke Manchester United's will.
Drogba showed how sharpness of mind can overcome a weary body bruised and battered over time.
He escaped the attention of Rafael da Silva, his marker 12 years his junior, as Cesc Fabregas floated his corner-kick into the penalty box.
He timed his jump to perfection, contorting his body to deliver the kind of power and accuracy in his shot that United, even with van Persie keeping watch on the line, could not keep out.
It's not even a quarter into the season, but Chelsea are already looking like the ones who are going to wrap their hands around the coveted Premiership crown.
A win here would have convinced the remaining few who think otherwise.
At this point, United, whose aim of staying within touching distance of the top four appears a whole lot more modest, could only watch and admire from a distance.
But they had themselves to blame.
They showed their attacking intent right from the start, and had the better of an exciting first half.
Angel di Maria fired the first warning in the fourth minute when he got on the end of a well-worked United build-up, but volleyed his effort high and wide.
The best chance fell to van Persie in the 23rd minute but, with only Thibaut Courtois to beat, the United striker couldn't steer the ball past the Chelsea goalkeeper's leg.
Louis van Gaal's men returned after the break showing similar attacking appetite, until Drogba leapt high above younger man to strike a near-fatal blow.
But van Persie, under much criticism for his poor form this season, had other ideas. And he left it late. So late, that almost everyone thought United's chance had passed.
But, in the final minute of stoppage time, the Dutchman had the composure and presence of mind to send his effort through a crowded penalty box to send an entire city wild with joy.
Manchester City will be relieved that Chelsea gained a point, not three, over them during the weekend.
And United got a massive boost that gives them reason to hope for more this season.
- MAN UNITED: David de Gea, Rafael da Silva, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, Angel di Maria, Juan Mata (James Wilson 66), Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj, Robin van Persie
- CHELSEA: Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Filipe Luis, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Willian (Kurt Zouma 90), Oscar Jon Obi Mikel (66), Eden Hazard (Andre Schuerrle 89), Didier Drogba