Samuel Eto’o scored a hat-trick as Chelsea moved back to within two points of Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League, after they brushed 10-man Manchester United aside 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.
The Cameroon striker doubled his league tally for the season, as David Moyes remains in search of his first win over Jose Mourinho.
Javier Hernandez scored a consolation for United, who had captain Nemanja Vidic sent off in stoppage-time for a late foul on Eden Hazard.
The visitors started brightly and Ashley Young was denied with the first chance of the game. After a neat one-two with Danny Welbeck in the opening minutes, the winger drew a good save out of Petr Cech at his near post.
It was Chelsea who broke the deadlock against the run of play though, as Eto’o picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and cut inside Phil Jones on the edge of the penalty area. His left-footed shot deflected off Michael Carrick and into the top corner.
Patrice Evra hit the side-netting for Moyes’ men as they looked to respong, and Welbeck got the ball stuck under his feet and could not get his shot away properly from an Adnan Januzaj’s cross.
Oscar then wasted a glorious chance for Mourinho’s side as he mishit a bicycle-kick from inside the six-yard box, but Eto’o made it two just before half-time when he was on hand to slide home Gary Cahill’s cross under the body of David De Gea.
Just four minutes into the second half and the former Barcelona striker completed his hat-trick. De Gea could only parry Cahill’s header from a Willian corner, and Eto’o pounced ahead of Antonio Valencia to prod home the rebound.
United did manage to grab a goal 12 minutes from time, as some clever link-up play between Valencia and Welbeck set up Jones, whose shot was helped in by substitute Hernandez.
Frustrations clearly boiled over for the champions in stoppage-time as Vidic saw red for a late studs-up challenge on Hazard, while Rafael was fortunate to escape being given his marching orders after a nastier-looking challenge on Cahill only received a yellow card from referee Phil Dowd.
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