The Reds dominated the early exchanges at Stamford Bridge but fell behind in unfortunate circumstances when Samuel Eto’o’s shot deflected off Carrick to beat David De Gea.
David Moyes’ men pressed for an equaliser but suffered a body blow just before the break when Eto’o bagged his second. And things went from bad to worse when the Chelsea striker completed his hat-trick five minutes after the interval.
Even then, the Reds kept going and pulled one back through substitute Javier Hernandez. But the damage had already been done and Nemanja Vidic’s late sending-off capped an unhappy afternoon.
"The end of the first half killed us," Carrick admitted to MUTV. "I thought we were the better team for large periods of the first half, so to find ourselves 2-0 down was a blow.
"We said at half-time that if we got the next goal, we’d be right in the game, but it was an uphill task when the third one went in. Both those goals came at bad times and, at this level, they shape the game."
Moyes said United could "only blame ourselves" for the defensive lapses that contributed to Chelsea’s second and third goals, and Carrick agreed with that assessment.