Juan Mata scored a crucial late winner for Chelsea as what looked like a bore draw against Manchester United sparked into life in the final five minutes.
The match never looked like producing much in the way of entertainment, with Oscar’s first-half effort off the post the closest either side came in the opening exchanges.
Rafa Benitez’s side were showing more ambition in pursuit of a winner however, and their reward came in the 87th minute as Mata’s low shot took a slight deflection and trickled in off the far post.
Sir Alex Ferguson made a number of changes to his side, and one of those to come in was Anders Lindegaard between the sticks. The Dane got a hand on Mata’s effort, but could only divert it in off the post.
More drama was to follow as Rafael was harshly shown a straight red card for flooring David Luiz after the ball had gone, with the Brazilian centre back wearing a smile on the floor as his compatriot was given his marching orders by referee Howard Webb.
The incident was followed by some much needed passion from both sets of players, with pushing and shoving in the corner not able to save the Red Devils right back.
United had late chances to put the ball into the box from set-pieces but failed to do so, and never really tested Petr Cech throughout as the Blues moved back up to third in the Premier League table.
Victory moves them a point above fourth-placed Arsenal with a game in-hand, whilst Spurs sit another two off the pace in fifth – just outside the Champions League places.
Despite having little to play for, Ferguson wore a face like thunder as he shook the hand of arch-rival Rafael Benitez, and the Scot will expect more from his champions in their final two games of the season.
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