Football: Chelsea left chastened by Solskjaer's late strike

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The Independent Online
Manchester United 2

Chelsea 2

He scored a goal and received a booking. In all a typical Old Trafford night for Mark Hughes. Only last night he was wearing the blue of Chelsea, not the red of Manchester United, and his first goal at his old stampeding ground since leaving it knocked his former club off the top of the Premiership and spoiled a perfect home record.

Hughes's 67th-minute goal looked to have won a rumbustuous match but his successor in the Stretford End's affections, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, made a dramatic return from injury to earn United a point four minutes from time.

"We dug ourselves out of trouble again," Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said. "It tells you something about the character of the players but also how careless we can be."

"We felt we deserved more," his Chelsea counterpart, Ruud Gullit, said. "It was an emotional game and I am proud of the team."

With four goals, eight bookings and series of running feuds it was a stirring game. Which was a problem for the United fans who had sworn to watch the first half in near silence in protest at United's draconian approach to those who dare to stand.

In the muted atmosphere the visitors, now unbeaten here in five seasons, settled quickly. Dennis Wise, Hughes and Gustavo Poyet went close before Graeme Le Saux shot fiercely from 20 yards. Peter Schmeichel beat away the drive only to see the ball hit Henning Berg and loop over him into the net.

After 35 minutes United scored a controversial equaliser. Not only did Andy Cole look offside when he received a long ball from Gary Pallister, so did Paul Scholes when drew alongside to take a short pass and score. Television pictures suggested the officials were right but Chelsea were enraged, Gullit rushing from the bench to lead the protests.

Chelsea nearly lost another goal as well as their tempers, Pallister crashing a header against the bar from David Beckham's cross. As Chelsea simmered, even Gianfranco Zola was booked and Roy Keane and Dennis Wise were lucky not to be dismissed.

United began the second period brightly, with Ed de Goey reacting smartly to save Nicky Butt's snap shot. Yet a calmer Chelsea looked more dangerous. Dan Petrescu brought a fine save from Schmeichel then curled a teasing cross away from the Danish goalkeeper for Hughes to tap in.

Teddy Sheringham missed horribly as United sought to level. They were nearly punished when Bernard Lambourde, on his debut, broke through, but he overran the ball and Solskjaer, who had only been on the pitch for 21 minutes, had the final say.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; G Neville (Giggs, 78), Pallister, Berg, Irwin; Beckham, Keane, Butt, Poborsky (Solskjaer, 55); Scholes (Sheringham, 55), Cole. Substitutes not used: Johnsen, Van der Gouw (gk).

Chelsea (4-4-2): De Goey; P Hughes, Lebouef, Myers, Le Saux; Petrescu, Wise, Lambourde, Poyet; Zola (Flo, 88), M Hughes. Substitutes not used: Vialli, Gullit, Nicholls, Hitchcock (gk).

Referee: G Willard (Worthing).