Chelsea remain in the race to retain the FA Cup after a stunning comeback against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Holders Chelsea stormed back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday and take their FA Cup quarter-final to a replay.
After Javier Hernandez opened the scoring in the fifth minute, Wayne Rooney marked his return to the United team with another early goal to put United 2-0 up at half-time.
Alex Ferguson’s side looked poised to move on from the hurt of their Champions League exit to Real Madrid, but second-half goals from Eden Hazard and Ramires meant Chelsea kept a hand on the trophy.
United were guilty of an oddly disjointed performance, but Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez – barracked, once again, by his own fans – could point to a second-half double substitution that changed the game’s momentum.
After the pain of Tuesday’s loss to Madrid, Ferguson spared himself further unwanted headlines by recalling Rooney to his starting line-up, with Robin van Persie on the bench.
Benitez resorted to what has emerged in recent weeks as his strongest team, meanwhile, with Fernando Torres and captain John Terry both dropping out of the visitors’ line-up.
The two clubs’ fans’ had only just started to run through their repertoire of songs about each other when United took the lead.
Michael Carrick sent an angled pass over the Chelsea defence and as visiting goalkeeper Petr Cech rushed out, Hernandez guided a gentle header over him and into the net.
Six minutes later it was 2-0, as Rooney announced his return with a goal.
Victor Moses was penalised for a foul on Nani near the left-hand apex of the penalty area and from the free-kick, Rooney bent in a cross that eluded everyone to creep inside the right-hand post.
Jonny Evans blocked from Demba Ba and Frank Lampard shot straight at David de Gea as Chelsea sought a response, but United were soon back on the attack.
After Hernandez had diverted a Nani cross wide of the near post, Cech produced a magnificent double-save.
The Chelsea goalkeeper was left on the floor after blocking an effort from Rooney but he sprang to touch the ball over the bar when David Luiz inadvertently headed towards his own goal.
Cech saved again, from Tom Cleverley, but United grew sloppy, and Moses should have done better than blaze wildly off-target after Juan Mata’s back-heel gave him a good sight of goal in the 39th minute.
United then lost Nani to injury just before half-time.
Having been controversially sent off against Madrid, the Portuguese winger had to leave the fray early for the second game in succession after abruptly going down on the edge of the Chelsea box.
Rooney feathered a chip over the bar in the injury time that followed, but United’s carelessness had given Chelsea hope for the second period.
Ramires skewed a shot wide in the 52nd minute, but Benitez had already seen enough and immediately introduced Hazard and John Mikel Obi in place of Moses and Lampard.
The move drew chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing!’ from Chelsea’s fans, but it yielded immediate results.
Hazard reduced the arrears with a glorious strike in the 59th minute, ghosting into the box from the left and shaping a gorgeous strike into the right side of the goal.
In response, Ferguson introduced van Persie, but Chelsea’s tails were up and in the 68th minute, they drew level.
A counter-attack left United’s defence exposed and when Oscar fed the ball wide to Ramires, he rolled the ball inside to throw Evans off balance before stroking a shot into the bottom-left corner.
Chelsea had two opportunities to win the game at the death, but de Gea saved brilliantly from Mata in the last minute before parrying a fierce shot from Hazard in added time.