Frank Lampard completed the recovery with a second half spot kick which keeps United’s lead at four points ahead of Arsenal in second place.
We could have made the breakthrough on two occasions in the opening moments, after Fernando Torres was denied his first goal for the club following a foul inside the penalty box, with the referee having penalised fellow January signing Luiz for a tug.
Manchester United could have found the net after five minutes, when a run down the right from Ramires was closely checked by United’s John O’Shea, but he couldn’t stop the ball continuing for Nicolas Anelka. He delivered a cross which Florent Malouda fired in from the edge of the area. The shot was aimed directly at Edwin van der Sar, but the lack of defenders in Malouda’s vicinity was not encouraging for United fans.
As the half progressed, both sides had spells in which the opening goal could have been scored. Both Anelka and Rooney dragged shots wide from long range efforts.
In an even contest like this, chances need to be taken, and as the 30 minute mark approached it was United who took theirs after an overlapping run from Patrice Evra opened an avenue for Nani to explore. His run drew sufficient attention from the Chelsea defence to allow Rooney space, and after Nani moved the ball onto him, he turned and let rip a right footed shot from the edge of the box which beat Petr Cech low to his right.
There was much derision from Chelsea supporters as it was felt Rooney shouldn’t have even been on the field following his indiscretion at Wigan on Saturday. No matter, Rooney was available for selection and Sir Alex couldn’t have cared one jot.
The United boss had more reasons to be cheerful when Van der Sar made a couple of quick and instinctive saves from close range. Lampard launched a free-kick in from the right which flew to the far post where Branislav Ivanovic prodded the ball goal wards only to see Van der Sar keep him at bay.
It was a close as we had come to levelling up the game but at the break United looked like extending their lead at the top of the table.
Chelsea needed a response.
We came out for the second half with determination and guile and this paid dividends as Luiz levelled things with his first goal for the club.
A cleared ball from the United defence was scooped up by Michael Essien who delivered it back into the danger area where Ivanovic flicked onto Luiz, who with an excellent volley, smashed the ball into the left corner.
With the scores level, the game truly opened up and chances were in abundance. Rooney could have had another had his errant shot been remotely on target after 64 minutes.
Shortly after, an error by Michael Carrick could have been punished by Malouda. Carrick would have been sighing with relief after Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling combined to nullify the threat.
With the game standing all square, substitutions began. Didier Drogba was on for Nicolas Anelka, Dimitar Berbatov replaced Chicarito. Yury Zhirkov came on for Malouda. Ryan Giggs making his 606th league appearance for Manchester United when he replaced Paul Scholes.
With time running out a foul conceded by Smalling on Zhirkov gave us the chance to take the lead.
Frank Lampard stepped up and thundered the ball straight down the middle and the Bridge erupted!!
To compound matters for United, Vidic received a second yellow card in the dying moments for a foul on Ramires; suffering a suspension which will rule him out of the weekend’s clash with Liverpool
At half time Ferguson would have been happy and settled with the draw, but a second half revival from us keeps our title race just alive.
Gill Reeves CSG disabled rep.
• 01 Cech
• 02 Ivanovic
• 03 A Cole
• 04 David Luiz – yellow card (Bosingwa 81)
• 26 Terry
• 05 Essien – yellow card
• 07 Ramires – yellow card
• 08 Lampard
• 15 Malouda (Zhirkov 71)
• 09 Torres
• 39 Anelka (Drogba 61)
• 22 Turnbull,
• 17 Bosingwa,
• 19 Ferreira,
• 18 Zhirkov,
• 46 McEachran,
• 11 Drogba,
• 21 Kalou
• 01 Van der Sar
• 03 Evra (Fabio Da Silva 81)
• 12 Smalling
• 15 Vidic – two yellow cards = red card
• 22 O’Shea
• 16 Carrick
• 17 Nani
• 18 Scholes (Giggs 70 – yellow card)
• 24 Fletcher
• 10 Rooney
• 14 Hernandez (Berbatov 70)
• 29 Kuszczak,
• 06 Brown,
• 20 Fabio Da Silva,
• 21 Rafael,
• 11 Giggs,
• 28 Gibson,
• 09 Berbatov