Robin van Persie’s late-strike helps Manchester United hold Chelsea
LONDON, OCTOBER 27
Robin van Persie’s goal deep into stoppage-time snatched a 1-1 draw for Manchester United against Premier League leaders Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday. Chelsea were on the brink of going six points clear at the top of the table when defender Branislav Ivanovic was sent-off late on for a second bookable offence.
From the ensuing Angel di Maria free-kick, Marouane Fellaini’s header was well-saved by impressive Chelsea goalkeeper Thibault Courtois but van Persie followed up to score.
It had seemed Didier Drogba, making his first start in the Premier League this season, had struck the decisive blow when, in the absence of injured forwards Diego Costa and Loic Remy, he powered in a 53rd minute header which went in off van Persie to give the veteran Ivory Coast forward his first English top-flight goal since March 2012.
This result left Chelsea four points clear of second-placed Southampton and ensured honours were even between Jose Mourinho and Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, under whom the Blues boss worked when the Dutchman was in charge of Barcelona.
Earlier, Newcastle United climbed out of the bottom three with a 2-1 win away to Tottenham Hotspur while winless Burnley remained rooted in the relegation zone after a 3-1 loss at home to Everton.
Fresh from their first victory of the season, at home to Leicester last weekend, Newcastle came from behind at White Hart Lane to enjoy back-to-back victories for the first time in nearly eight months.
Emmanuel Adebayor’s 18th-minute header gave Tottenham the lead but just six seconds after the break, Newcastle were level when Sammy Ameobi, a half-time substitute, chased down a long ball from Jack Colback and beat Spurs’ goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
And their comeback was complete when Ayoze Perez, making his first Premier League start, expertly headed in a cross to the back post from Remy Cabella, another half-time substitution by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, in the 58th minute.
Louis van Gaal unhappy with ‘stupid’ van Persie
Louis van Gaal labelled compatriot Robin van Persie “stupid” after his celebrations in scoring a dramatic late equaliser for Manchester United in their 1-1 draw at home to Premier League leaders Chelsea saw the experienced Dutch striker booked.
Van Gaal looked on course to fall to a defeat against Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who worked under him for three years at Barcelona, until van Persie struck in the 94th minute at Old Trafford on Sunday.
But while van Gaal was obviously relieved to have secured what he felt was a deserved point, he was not so impressed with his star forward’s response in celebrating the dramatic goal.
“You have seen a stupid reaction after the goal,” said van Gaal. “You can be excited but you don’t have to pull your shirt off. Then you have a yellow card, that is not so smart.
“But yes, we deserved a point. You know that, Jose Mourinho knows that also.
“I said to the boys, it wasn’t our best performance and that’s a pity because in these moments you have to show yourself against the better teams,” the veteran Dutch manager added of a result that left his side 10 points behind Chelsea.
Van Persie was one of nine players booked during the match, a surprisingly high figure given the non-violent nature of the contest, to go with Branislav Ivanovic’s red card, for a second yellow, after his foul on Angel di Maria led to the free-kick that presented van Persie with his chance to equalise.
And the performance of referee Phil Dowd certainly irritated Mourinho, although the Chelsea manager was careful not to make direct criticism for fear of falling foul of Football Association disciplinary procedures.
“I did five interviews and in all five, the first question was my comments on the referee,” he explained. “I told them, my comment is that when five ask me the same thing, I don’t need to answer. “I prefer not to speak about the (Ivanovic) second yellow card because if I have to speak about the second yellow card then I have to start in the first half,” the Portuguese manager added.
“I have to go through many things that happened in the first half — the penalty on Ivanovic, the accumulation of yellow cards, the fouls he (Dowd) was not giving, the throw-ins just in front of me and he and the linesman kept giving them in the other direction.
“Chelsea was fantastic and even in these circumstances then even more credit for my players. The result is not the result we came for.
“We came to win and we showed that from the first minute. The performance is always fantastic, the result not so good, but acceptable,” said Mourinho, whose team now lead second-placed Southampton by four points.
United will not have long to rest on their laurels with a visit to Eastlands for the Manchester derby against reigning English champions City next weekend and van Gaal does not know how his team will respond to a creditable performance against Chelsea.
“You cannot predict,” he said. “But I am a crazy coach and I said to the players after the match, normally you have to play your best against the best teams but we did not do that today.
“We could have won and missed an opportunity and that’s a pity but I am very pleased with their fighting spirit until the very end.”
England international Phil Jones missed the game with shin splints and the injury-prone United defender faces an uncertain period on the sidelines.