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Four minutes of Old Trafford madness

NUMBER ONE: Creator Ramires celebrates with scorer Juan Mata

A WELL-WORKED team goal four minutes from time gave Chelsea all three points as they beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford.

It followed a perfectly legal challenge by Ramires on Wayne Rooney, but instead of tracking back the England striker sulked and the Chelsea midfielder powered down the pitch, before passing to Oscar, who fed scorer Juan Mata for the game's only goal. Although replays seem to show it came of home defender Phil Jones' knee.

For 86 minutes Old Trafford had been waiting for something to occur and then they got the goal and a red card in quick succession, as Rafael Da Silva was given his marching orders by referee Howard Webb after kicking out at David Luiz at the corner flag. It was a mindless reaction after Luiz had jinked his way down the right, and even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted as much when he remarked that 'retaliation never works'. Although his suggestion that the only reason Webb had sent his player of because of the Portuguese defenders exaggerated reaction was false. Sian Massey was running the line and had rightly signalled to Webb, although after his performance in the middle of the park today maybe they should swap roles.

In truth, neither team had a particularly impressive day but the Londoners just edged it and now have the three points to keep them above Tottenham and Arsenal in the race for the Champions League spots. Although they were helped by a disappointing performance from the Champions in their first home game since winning the league at Villa Park.

While it was clear Sir Alex Ferguson had re-jigged his team to allow some players the opportunity to meet the ten game requirement to get a Premier League medal, you have to wonder if some of them even deserve one. Of those recalled; Tom Cleverly showed why he hasn't played since February and has only started 17 games this season, and Anderson displayed all the decision-making prowess of a drunken gambler.

While Antonio Valencia stumbled through the game sending wayward crosses in the general direction of Robin van Persie, who seemed as if he had returned to his mid-season lull in form. Hopefully Valencia's next performance for the club – his 100th – will be far better.

Even Chelsea legend 'super' Frank Lampard couldn't breathe life into a game that became flatter and more insipid as the clock ticked down. You have to wonder if the England international will get to break Bobby Tambling's record with just three league games left after this one and two goals needed to get him to the 203. Rafa Benitez had left Eden Hazard in the stands as his calf strain deemed him too much of a risk, and they seemed to miss his energy and ingenuity in the middle of the park.

The away team had had a couple of chances early on to take the lead, with Oscar's shot being saved by Anders Lindegaard after the United defence just allowed him to run at them, while Demba Ba failed to get his header on target after connecting with Victor Moses' cross from the left.

The reaction of the home crowd when Wayne Rooney joined the play with 21 minutes left, showed they also knew a spark was needed to breathe life back into this game. Normally an opposition manager would react but you wondered where Chelsea could go next. Their bench only had two strikers, one was teenager Nathan Ake. The other Fernando Torres. And although he has scored seven league goals this season, you get the feeling that Benitez doesn't believe he is capable of changing a game otherwise he would've have brought him on with more than 15 minutes left to play.

Luckily for the Europa League finalist's, they had that Spanish marvel Mata to thank for the points again with his 19th goal of the season. The Londoners have a derby with neighbours Tottenham on Wednesday and they may need to rotate their squad as Spurs have more to play for than the subdued United.

Benitez' description of them as 'relaxed' was polite at best. But I guess when you've already won the trophy you can take you feet off the gas. Though judging by some of the crowd reaction, their fans don't agree.

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