Manchester United may have trooped off the pitch in disappointment at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night but again, just as in victory on Sunday, there were plenty of individual performances to admire in Sir Alex Ferguson’s ranks.
The boss made 10 changes to his starting line-up and the only Red who was on the pitch at kick-off in both games was among those who caught the eye as we whittled down our Man of the Match shortlist to four players: Rafael, Anderson, Javier Hernandez and Ryan Giggs.
Rafael was nominated after the league game and he's here again after another all-action performance. The Brazilian played in two different positions – his usual right-back role and then left-back after Alexander Buttner went off – and was involved at both ends of the pitch. One of his tackles (on David Luiz) led to Javier Hernandez’s strike, while another (on Daniel Sturridge) denied Chelsea a goal early in the second half. When Gary Cahill did make it 2-2, Rafael came closest to stopping him, heading the Chelsea defender’s header out of the net – albeit after it crossed the line.
Anderson will be sad to say goodbye to the Capital One Cup for this season after scoring his best goal for the club in the last round, against Newcastle, and setting up all three of the Reds’ efforts during the 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge. He linked up well with all of his midfield team-mates – most notably Nani when the Portuguese winger made it 3-2 – and his high pressing up the pitch helped create the opening goal for Ryan Giggs. But his best moment was surely the defence-splitting assist for Hernandez shortly before half-time.
Ryan Giggs was heralded by Sir Alex as an example to all the players on the pitch – Chelsea’s included – after putting in an industrious 2-hour shift as he enters the month of his 39th birthday. He made the first of his two goals look easy when, in reality, he only had one spot to pick with Petr Cech filling the net in front of him. The Welshman was also cool when called upon to convert a penalty in the 120th minute of the match. Had the game gone to a shoot-out, you could have bet your house on him doing it again and claiming a kind of hat-trick.