Both managers made a change at the break, with Roberto Di Matteo upgrading his eleven by replacing Romeu with Ramires, and Sir Alex also sending on an attacking midfielder in the form of Nick Powell. This required a defensive reshuffle with Rafael moving across to replace the departed Buttner at left-back and Darren Fletcher filling in on the right.
Powell almost made an immediate impact, his snapshot from outside the box ensuring Cech was still on his toes after his half-time breather. Alertness seemed to be an issue at the other end though; when United’s sluggishness in setting up for a corner afforded Sturridge so much time and space, he should have done much better than just flick the ball across the goalmouth. It was left to another centre-back, Cahill, to show the striker how it’s done from a dead ball as the England defender’s towering header made it 2-2 – despite Rafael’s effort to repel it from behind the goal line.
Corners continued to cause alarm for the Reds, with the impressive Moses despatching a free header over the crossbar. But United had regained the advantage by then, thanks to the best goal of the night. Some lovely interplay between Anderson and Nani was polished off by the latter as the Portuguese dinked the ball across Cech’s body and into the net. “Can we play you every week?” goaded the away fans, as they celebrated their side going 3-2 up at Stamford Bridge for the second successive match.
It could have been 4-2 – and Anderson could have claimed his fourth assist when his blocked shot spun towards Chicharito and the Mexican this time missed the target. At the other end, Lindegaard thwarted Moses, Aspilicueta headed over from close range and Mata had an angry penalty appeal ignored after his shot struck Michael Keane on one, if not both, of his arms.