Manchester United won at Stamford Bridge in over a decade when they beat Chelsea 3-2, thanks to goals from David Luiz (own goal), Robin Van Persie and an off-side Javier Hernandez. The match was marred by a lot of controversial refereeing decisions from Mark Clattenberg, who was booed roundly by the Stamford Bridge crowd.
Manchester United did take an attacking approach to the game and it seems to have paid off very early in the match. Chelsea's horrendous defensive play did aid their cause and they raced away to a 2-0 lead. Chelsea replied in spectacular fashion, with their attacking quartists exhibiting their talents to the fullest. Oscar looked like the pick of the lot, snaking across the pitch and picking the right passes. Juan Mata replied for Chelsea with a stunning free-kick. David De Gea did his chances no harm with some wonderful saves that kept United in the lead. Chelsea equalised soon after half-time when Ramires bundled home a header from an Oscar cross.
The match was being played at a frenetic pace and both sets of fans had so much to look forward to. But then, Mark Clattenberg decided to interfere and sent Ivanovic off for obstructing Ashley Young. This was a fair call but what happened afterwards was hardly fair, any football fan would admit.
Fernando Torres was tripped by Johny Evans and Clattenberg dediced to send off Torres instead, who was already on a yellow card. Replays showed there was definite contact but Clattenberg would have none of it. He further allowed a 'day-light' off-side goal from Hernandez, thus putting United ahead.
On balance of play, except the initial 2 goal run, United looked out of ideas and were held brilliantly by a youthful Chelsea side. To add to his incompetent decisions, the referee allegedly made racist remarks against a Chelsea player and taunted a Spanish player in the Chelsea side. The FA is looking into charges levelled by Chelsea against the referee but it is indeed a sad turn of events for football in general.
A larger point about match officials need to be made here. If we, as individuals, pay for our mistakes at our jobs, why should the referees be any different? If such levels of incompetence were to be shown by a corporate lawyer during a merger transaction, a mistake that changes the complexion of the deal, losses could be significant. The lawyer would probably be sacked already. What about the referee then? Take the player analogy. If a striker does not score goals regularly or misses chances after chances, he would be benched or sold. Then, why is football made to suffer on account of 'human errors'. This does not mean we include robots as match officials. As long as there is a human element in the game, room for error remains. But retrospective over-ruling of scores should be looked into.
This time it was Chelsea but United have had the raw end of the deal so many times at the hands of referees. So have other Premier League teams. It is in the interest of the sport that such referees are punished and punished severely for their mistakes. If charges against Clattenberg are proved correct, he should be dismissed. A match referee's job is to officiate a game and the act of handing out cards, either yellow or red should not be a moment for the referee to relish.
United came away with lucky three points at the Bridge but Chelsea provided enough glimpse of their attacking talent. This Chelsea side will be no pushovers this season and United would do well to quietly acknowledge that or else they could pay the price come end of the season.