Chelsea’s rapidly disintegrating season was temporarily salvaged by a stunning second-half fightback at Old Trafford to earn an FA Cup quarter-final replay.
Javier Hernandez had given United a fifth-minute lead with a looping header from a pin-point Michael Carrick cross.
And six minutes later Wayne Rooney, recalled to the United line-up after sitting out much of their 2-1 Champions League quarter-final exit to Bayern Munich in midweek, quelled any suggestions that he’s a bit-part player, blasting home a free kick to put United 2-0 up.
Answering his critics: It didn’t take Wayne Rooney long to set the seal on United’s victory
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea, Da Silva, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Carrick, Cleveley, Nani (Valencia 45), Kagawa (Welbeck 75), Rooney, Hernandez (Van Persie 61). Subs not used: Amos, Anderson, Vidic, Young.
Goals: Hernandez 5, Rooney 11
CHELSEA: Cech, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Lampard (Hazard 51), Moses (Mikel 51), Mata, Oscar, Ba (Torres 77). Subs not used: Turnbull, Ivanovic,Terry, Bertrand.
Goals: Hazard 59, Ramires 68
Booked: Azpilicueta, Luiz, Hazard.
Referee: Howard Web
But the West London side hit back after the break. Substitute Eden Hazard gave Chelsea life, curling home after being put through by Juan Mata just before the hour.
Chelsea grew in confidence and United wilted under pressure. Luiz broke up a United attack, allowing Demba Ba to surge forward. He fed Ramires who cut in from the right flank to curl home with his left foot.
Heading to the final four: Javier Hernandez nods home United’s first goal
On it’s way: Hernandez (centre) beats Chelsea keeper Petr Cech with his fifth-minute header
Dejected: John Terry was forced to watch Chelsea’s FA Cup exit from the bench
Heads we win: Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa (right) beats Cezar Azpilicueta in the air
No way through: Tom Cleverley (right) closes down Chelsea’s Demba Ba
High life: Rooney is mobbed after scoring United’s second goal (above, as United striker Robin van Persie (below) watches from the bench
All square: Ramires curls home to make it 2-2
Fightback complete: Ramires celebrates with Oscar (left) after scoring equalizer
Banishing the blues: Ramires (left), Azpilicueta and Mata (right) salute the travelling army of Chelsea fans
Better the devil you know: Sir Alex Ferguson walks with mascot Fred the Red
He’s ‘armless: Javier Hernandez his held back by Chelsea’s Gary Cahill