We were riding high on a three- nil lead shortly before the hour mark, with an own goal from Jonny Evans and a David Luiz header either side of a Juan Mata stunner but we couldn’t hold on for the win.
Andre Villas Boas handed a first start to new signing Gary Cahill, with skipper John Terry ruled out through injury. Frank Lampard was also unavailable with Ashley Cole serving a one match ban.
The game had the feel of a usual heavyweight bout in the opening twenty minutes, with each side attempting to edge their way in to the game without leaving themselves exposed to the counter attack.
United had the lions’ share of possession in the opening stages and looked the more likely to break the deadlock as Rooney and Welbeck began to combine well.
With the game fairly balanced towards the end of the half right out of the blue Juan Mata and Fernando Torres worked the space to the left of United’s penalty area and Daniel Sturridge wove his way in behind Patrice Evra before running at the near post. His cut-back took a nick of David De Gea’s outstretched leg before striking Jonny Evans in the chest nestling in the back of the net.
The goal brought the game to life as Sturridge then tested De Gea from distance before a United onslaught closed out the first half, with Petr Cech denying Rooney on two occasions and Welbeck from close range.
Just forty seconds after the restart and we doubled our lead in emphatic style.
Torres got the ball in space on the right and picked out Mata with a pin-point cross before he rifled home a fantastic volley from inside the area. Then just five minutes later we had a third, after Mata’s free-kick was flicked on by David Luiz and turned home by Rio Ferdinand’s shoulder.
As Stamford Bridge erupted, desperate for a way back in to the game, Ferguson brought on Javier Hernandez to bolster the attack, and shortly before the hour mark, United grabbed a lifeline.
Sturridge brought down Evra in the box and referee Webb pointed to the spot.
Wayne Rooney scored in to the top right-hand corner to keep his side in the game.
Chances were then coming thick and fast. De Gea had to get down low to save from Malouda, whilst Cech denied Rooney from the edge of the area after link-up play between him and Hernandez, but it was United who scored again from another Rooney penalty, after Welbeck was caught by the leg of Ivanovic.
Stamford Bridge had gone from rocking to rocky, and it almost got worse when substitute Oriol Romeu mishit a pass in his own half, but Hernandez could only fire wide across goal after being played in by Giggs.
Torres was then gifted a golden opportunity as a ball bounced over Evans’ head, but he took to many touches on the ball after driving goal wards and was eventually robbed by Valencia.
With less than ten minutes to go, Torres – and Chelsea – were left to rue that miss, as United’s comeback was completed.
Valencia and Welbeck combined down the right. The cross was gathered in by Rooney and parried by Petr Cech to Giggs before he picked out Hernandez with a cross and he headed home the equaliser.
We might have stolen the three points at the death when Mata’s free-kick seemed destined for the top corner, but De Gea turned the ball behind.
In the end we had to settle for a point in a game where there is no question that Manchester United made a great comeback from a 3-0 deficit.
Next up an away trip to Everton.
Gill Reeves – CSG disabled rep
• 01 Cech
• 02 Ivanovic – Booked
• 04 David Luiz
• 17 Bosingwa
• 24 Cahill
• 05 Essien
• 15 Malouda
• 16 Meireles
• 09 Torres – Booked
• 10 Mata
• 23 Sturridge (Romeu – 70′ )
• 22 Turnbull
• 19 Ferreira
• 27 Hutchinson
• 34 Bertrand
• 06 Romeu
• 35 Piazon
• 18 Lukaku
• 01 De Gea
• 03 Evra – Booked
• 05 Ferdinand
• 06 Evans
• 21 Rafael (Scholes – 63′ )
• 11 Giggs
• 16 Carrick
• 18 Young (Hernandez – 53′ )
• 25 Valencia
• 10 Rooney
• 19 Welbeck (Park Ji-sung – 86′ )
• 40 Amos
• 20 Fabio
• 13 Park Ji-sung
• 22 Scholes
• 42 Pogba
• 09 Berbatov
• 14 Hernandez
Ref: H Webb