MANCHESTER UNITED 1 CHELSEA 1
CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho made clear his displeasure with referee Phil Dowd after Robin van Persie's 94th-minute equaliser denied his 10 men victory at Old Trafford yesterday.
Manchester United's late equaliser came seconds after the Blues had been weakened defensively by the sending off of right-back Branislav Ivanovic for a second booking.
The Premier League pace-setters, who led through Didier Drogba, also had a strong penalty claim, when Chris Smalling grappled with Ivanovic at a corner, turned down.
Mourinho refused to expand on Dowd's performance, but intimated it was because he felt unable to speak freely rather than because he was content with the decisions.
“I have come from the flash interviews. I did five and in all five, the first question was my comments on the referee. I told them no comment, because when five ask the same thing, I don’t need to answer,” he said.
“I prefer just to say that in my opinion, from where I was and reading the game, my feeling is that we had a good first half and a fantastic second half. To come here and play the way we did and not to be happy with the point, because we are not, shows clearly how good we were and how good we are playing at this moment.”
“You know I cannot speak,” he said when pressed on the refereeing.
“Some can, some don't. I am one of the ones that cannot because you know what happens to me when I speak. So I won't. I will speak about the game, which I thought was good.”
The results means Chelsea, who were without injured top scorer Diego Costa, sit four points clear at the top, with Louis van Gaal's men eighth, 10 points off the summit.
United enjoyed the better early chances of a lively, end-to-end contest in stark contrast to last season's corresponding stalemate, but found goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in top form.
Van Persie tested the Belgian three times in the opening half hour -- with a low shot from a tight angle, when sent clear by Adnan Januzaj and with a looping header -- but was repeatedly thwarted by Courtois.
At the other end Ivanovic appealed vehemently for a spot-kick after his tussle with Smalling in the goalmouth, while Drogba shot straight at David de Gea from an Oscar cut-back.
De Gea saved again when Eden Hazard played a one-two with Drogba, hurdled Smalling’s challenge and burst into the box, but he could not stop the veteran striker glancing home a header from the resulting corner in the 53rd minute.
Ivanovic dragged his shot wastefully wide after a typically bulldozing run, and was dismissed in stoppage time when his trip of Angel di Maria earned his second yellow card.
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who opened his United account against West Brom on Monday, met the ensuing free-kick with a firm header, and though Courtois repelled it, Van Persie was lurking to slam in the rebound.