Daniel Sturridge and Ramires struck in extra time as Chelsea avenged their controversial weekend loss to Manchester United with a breathless 5-4 win to reach the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
But it took Eden Hazard's penalty in the final seconds of normal time at Stamford Bridge to save the Blues from falling to a second successive 3-2 defeat at the hands of Alex Ferguson's side.
"It was a very exciting game - a typical cup game," said Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo, whose side face Leeds United in the last eight. "We could have finished off the game earlier, but we showed what fantastic character we have to come back from behind three times."
There were fewer contentious decisions than in the previous meeting, but referee Lee Mason was still the focus of attention, awarding three penalties and correctly judging that Gary Cahill's 52nd-minute header crossed the line.
United led three times in the tie - through Ryan Giggs, Nani, and Javier Hernandez - and were pegged back by a David Luiz penalty and Cahill's header, before Hazard produced a third equaliser.
Chelsea then took control in extra time, with Sturridge and Ramires each rounding Anders Lindegaard to give Chelsea a two-goal advantage and Giggs' 120th-minute spot-kick coming too late to kick-start a United revival.
Any meeting between these two teams carries with it an extra edge and the tension was intensified in the wake of United's contentious league win on Sunday.
Chelsea made six changes and United 10, yet while the personnel had changed significantly from the previous meeting, the intensity of the game was unchanged.
Poor start for Blues
United made the breakthrough in the 22nd minute as they capitalised on the first of Chelsea's costly defensive mistakes.
Petr Cech rolled a goal-kick out to Oriol Romeu on the edge of his area, where the Spaniard was quickly pressured by Anderson and Giggs, and when the ball broke, Giggs stroked home for his first goal since February.
Chelsea responded quickly and were level nine minutes later when Luiz converted from the spot after Victor Moses had been tripped by Alexander Buttner, leaving Mason with no option but to award the penalty.
Both sides were creating chances although it was the Chelsea defence that looked the more vulnerable against the pace and movement of Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Anderson.
And they were guilty of once again creating problems for themselves when Luiz attempted to run the ball out from the back and gifted United the chance to restore their lead in the 43rd minute.
Luiz was robbed by Rafael on the halfway line before Anderson picked out Hernandez's run through the gap at the heart of the home defence and the Mexico striker finished clinically with his left foot.
United may have had the advantage at the interval but Chelsea's response after the break ensured they could never consider themselves comfortable.
The home side forced themselves level when Cahill headed home from Mata's corner.
It took the decision of the assistant referee to confirm the ball had crossed the line before Rafael headed the ball out, but replays confirmed the match officials made the correct decision.
Yet having got themselves back into the game, Chelsea were again opened up when Nani exchanged passes with Anderson before clipping the ball over Cech to make it 3-2 in the 59th minute.
Chelsea responded impressively but their chance appeared to have gone until Scott Wootton barged into Ramires as the Brazilian was about to shoot, handing Hazard the chance to level and setting up a dramatic denouement.
"If you're winning 3-2 in the final seconds, you really should see it out," said United coach Alex Ferguson. "We only have ourselves to blame."
Reds edged out again
Liverpool's season encountered fresh disappointment at Anfield as they were outplayed by Swansea, who reached the last eight for the first time.
Chico, Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman found the net for the Swans, with Luis Suarez on target for Rodgers' side.
Meanwhile, a quick-fire pair of goals in the last six minutes saw Norwich come from behind to win 2-1 against Tottenham at Carrow Road.
Gareth Bale fired home from outside the box to give Spurs the lead in the 66th minute but Jan Vertonghen's 84th-minute own goal levelled the scores.
Simeon Jackson put Norwich in front three minutes later, slamming home after Hugo Lloris saved from Grant Holt, and Spurs' misery was complete moments later when Clint Dempsey's penalty was saved by Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn.
Bradford City, of third-tier League Two, were rewarded for beating top-flight Wigan Athletic on penalties with a home tie against Premier League powerhouses Arsenal.
Swansea City will face second-tier Middlesbrough, while the only all-Premier League tie of the round sees Norwich City host Aston Villa.
The matches are due to take place in the week beginning 10 December, although Chelsea's trip to Leeds will take place on 19 December due to the European champions' involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Quarter-final draw for the English League Cup
Leeds United v Chelsea
Swansea City v Middlesbrough
Norwich City v Aston Villa
Bradford City v Arsenal