Chelsea ties Man U but still has safe 4-point lead
Chelsea went four points clear at the top of the Premier League on Sunday but felt it should have been six after Manchester United captain Robin van Persie scored a dramatic late goal to deny them victory in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
“We are not happy with a point,” said Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho after a strong second half performance in which Didier Drogba, playing from the start because Diego Costa was unfit, headed the visitors in front in the 53rd minute.
With Thibaut Courtois keeping out van Persie’s best efforts, Chelsea seemed likely to hold out, but just before the final whistle Branislav Ivanovic was sent off for a second yellow card.
From the free kick, Courtois saved from Marouane Fellaini but could not stop van Persie’s fierce follow-up.
The draw extended Chelsea’s lead to four points over second-placed Southampton and six over champions Manchester City.
It was only the second time this season Mourinho’s side has failed to take all three points, both games being in Manchester, where they also drew 1-1 with City.
Seven wins and two draws in nine games nevertheless leaves them in an enviable position.
United, meanwhile, having briefly reached fourth place, find themselves back in eighth after a second successive draw.
The consolation for them is having equalized right at the end again, just as they did in a 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion last Monday.
A year ago, Mourinho had been criticized for Chelsea’s negative approach at Old Trafford when he played without a recognized striker and achieved a goalless draw.
Without Costa and Loic Remy, there might have been a temptation to adopt the same tactics, but starting with Drogba just in front of Willian, Oscar and Eden Hazard, reflected the London side’s confidence after their impressive start to the season.
“My team played a fantastic game,” Mourinho said. “It was not the result we came for, but acceptable.”
United’s Manager Louis van Gaal was pleased with the way his team kept going, saying: “We showed again that we believe until the end in making a goal.”
They face a tough assignment next, in the Manchester derby away to City next Sunday.
Elsewhere, Newcastle United moved out of the relegation places with a 2-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur, but winless Burnley stayed there after losing 3-1 at home to Everton.