United come back to save draw at Chelsea
Despite dominating for long periods, United's Stamford Bridge curse looked to have struck again when Jonny Evans put Daniel Sturridge's cross into his own net, Juan Mata scored a superb goal and a David Luiz header flew in off the shoulder of Rio Ferdinand.
Although it was another classic second half at Stamford Bridge, it was more dropped points for Chelsea from a winning position as they almost lost at home in the league to United for the first time in ten years.
"It was a terrible start after half-time and it's not easy to come back from three down. It was a massive effort from our players," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.
"Once we got over the goals after half-time we played really well. I was pleased with the players. We were by far the better team. For the neutral it was a great game but I thought it was two points dropped because we played so well."
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas added: "Of course it feels like a defeat. It isn't easy to take. It's a massive recovery from United. It's a disappointment for us. We had it in our hands and let it slip."
David De Gea, who was making his first league appearance of 2012, flapped at a cross in the eighth minute, but it was Chelsea who were soon breathing a sigh of relief as two United penalty cries were ignored.
Own goal opens scoring
The first saw Ashley Young go down far too easily under pressure from Jose Bosingwa, who got the nod at left-back with Ashley Cole suspended. Moments later, Danny Welbeck went down after being caught by the trailing leg of Chelsea debutant Gary Cahill, an outraged Ferguson racing onto the pitch as Webb ignored the United appeals.
Just before the half-hour, Branislav Ivanovic just beat Welbeck to Rooney's cross after a wonderful ball from Antonio Valencia. Webb brandished his yellow card when Fernando Torres ran into the back of Evans, for whom insult was added to injury nine minutes before half-time when he inadvertently gave Chelsea the lead.
United failed to clear their lines and the ball broke to Sturridge, who got to the byline and fired in a cross that hit De Gea and then went in off Evans' arm. Sturridge's vicious drive was repelled by De Gea before Petr Cech was finally called into meaningful action when he got fingertips on Young's curler.
The Chelsea goalkeeper then produced an even better stop from Welbeck's snapshot and Ivanovic was booked for running into Young as United finished the first half on top. But the visitors were caught cold at the restart as the home side trebled their advantage inside five minutes.
The second goal took less than 30 seconds, Torres getting clear down the right and whipping in the perfect cross for Mata to lash straight through De Gea before the goalkeeper could even move.
Two penalties turn tide
If that was sublime, the third was unlucky again for United, with Luiz heading Mata's free-kick against the shoulder of Ferdinand and into the net. However, United, who threw on Hernandez for Young, enjoyed a spectacular reversal of fortune when they were awarded two penalties inside ten minutes.
The first saw Sturridge harshly adjudged to have knocked over Evra, with Chelsea manager Villas-Boas launching a bottle into the advertising hoarding in disgust before Rooney stepped up to blast the penalty into the top left-hand corner.
Mata and Rooney tested the goalkeeper at either end and Paul Scholes came on for Rafael before Webb pointed to the spot again when Welbeck tripped over the leg of Ivanovic. This time Rooney went to Cech's left to put United within one goal of another astonishing comeback.
Although Oriol Romeu came on to shore things up and De Gea produced another uncomfortable punch on Michael Essien's drive, Ferguson's men deservedly equalised six minutes from time. Cech could only parry Rooney's shot out to Ryan Giggs on the left and the veteran crossed for the unmarked Hernandez to head straight through Cech.
Raul Meireles almost snatched it for Chelsea when he nodded Florent Malouda's cross over the top and De Gea produced two stunning stoppage-time saves to keep out Mata's free-kick and Cahill's drive.