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United demolished as Eto'o hits a hat-trick


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Chelsea returned to within two points of Premier League leaders Arsenal with a convincing 3-1 defeat of defending champions Manchester United.

Samuel Eto'o was the hat-trick hero, completing his treble in just 32 minutes as the Blues easily turned over David Moyes' side.

Whilst United started brightly, with Petr Cech forced to make a smart save from Ashley Young, the pace and power of the hosts was too much for the Red Devils to handle, with the clinical Eto'o opening the scoring by crashing an effort beyond David de Gea - albeit aided by a deflection off of Michael Carrick.

With that goal coming somewhat against the run of play, United were shell-shocked and the Blues made their dominance pay when Eto'o converted from close range - this time firing through the legs of the goalkeeper after an intelligent ball across the face of goal from Gary Cahill.

And the same combination brought about the game-clincher mere minutes into the second half - Cahill's header was superbly stopped by de Gea, but Eto'o was the fastest to react to complete an opportunistic hat-trick.

Though Javier Hernandez netted a late consolation, the Blues were well worth their lead and were a class apart from a United side in total disarray - the champions have now lost four of their last five.

To make matters worse, captain Nemanja Vidic was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Eden Hazard, whilst Brazilian full-back Rafael was incredibly fortunate to escape with just a yellow after an horrific two-footed lunge on Cahill in stoppage time.

That completed a miserable afternoon for United, who are now a massive twelve points behind Chelsea - and incredible statistic considering that the Reds finished fourteen ahead of the West Londoners last term.

Hernandez's late consolation goal may have given the visitors some microcomsm of hope with around ten minutes plus stoppages, but never has a United side looked so devoid of creativity - even the missing Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, absent through injury, could have done little to inspire such an insipid offensive performance.

Though substitute Fernando Torres suffered an injury to his lateral knee ligaments, fellow substitute Nemanja Matic made his (second) début for the club, making an immediate impact as he helped counter any potential for a United fight-back on a day of numerous positives for the Blues.

Regardless of all United's late ill-discipline, this victory - José Mourinho's 100th in the Premier League - will serve as a measure of revenge for the visitors' farcical win in last season's corresponding fixture.

Mourinho made a couple of changes to the side that cruised to victory against Hull last time out, with the returning Branislav Ivanovic coming in for Ashley Cole and Eto'o replacing Torres - an inspired selection indeed from the Special One. New signing Nemanja Matic started from the bench, joined by the fit-again Frank Lampard.

United began very brightly, with Adnan Januzaj at the heart of everything positive they created, and the 18 year-old almost fashioned their opener as he played in Young, only for the winger to be denied by a smart save by Cech.

That seemed to spark the hosts into life after a lethargic start, and after Ramires had provided the Blues' first real shot out of anger, it was Eto'o - the scourge of United in the 2009 UEFA Champions League final - who delivered the killer touch. Turning inside the pedestrian Phil Jones, the Cameroon international unleashed a shot that took a nick off of Carrick's outstretched boot to fly past the stranded de Gea.

Chelsea upped the tempo, clearly buoyed by that goal, and just after Oscar had gone close with an acrobatic bicycle-kick, Eto'o turned in the Blues' second. Coming from a corner, the ball was cleared as far as Ramires, who, with time and space, played the perfect pass into the path of Cahill, who intelligently slid the ball across the face of the six-yard box for Eto'o to convert.

That goal, coming seconds before the interval, would surely have dampened United spirits - and they became well and truly drenched when Eto'o completed his treble in typically predatory fashion a little over three minutes into the second period. Cahill jumped highest from Willian's corner, forcing the best out of David de Gea, but the ball broke kindly for Eto'o to lash home his first hat-trick in Chelsea colours.

The Blues turned on the style, and after Hazard had danced beyond three United defenders only to see a goalbound effort blocked by Carrick, Moyes responded by brining on Chris Smalling to help patch up the besieged United backline.

They were offered some respite when Hernandez slid in at the back post for his customary goal against Chelsea - but in truth this toothless United hardly looked like being able to provide anything close to the sort of comeback engineered under Sir Alex Ferguson when they rescued a 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge two years ago.

Any faint hopes of the same happening again were dashed when Vidic was dismissed for an early bath, with Rafael incredibly fortunate not to be following him for his needless shin-height, two-footed foul on Cahill. It was the sort of leg-breaking challenge that can threaten careers, and both Rafael and Cahill were lucky - the former fortunate not to be sent off for the second time in three games against the Blues, and Cahill lucky not to have suffered a serious injury.

A chorus of boos directed at the Brazilian full-back soon became cheers, as the final whistle was blown and One Step Beyond erupted from the tannoy system. Mourinho, then, celebrates his 100th Premier League win in style - coincidentally against the team he achieved his first against; his Chelsea juggernaut rolls on.

And for Eto'o, it was the first hat-trick scored by a Chelsea player against Manchester United since the 1954/55 season - the year the Blues won the league for the first time in their history. He goes home with the match ball knowing his efforts have kept the Blues in the title hunt - and steered them six points clear of fourth-placed Liverpool, who could only draw 2-2 against struggling Aston Villa on Saturday.

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Nice write up.

Good atmos today, loads dancing to 'one step beyond' at the end!

As in pre match thread I said "We will fuck them over 3-1. £20 on it"

Hate to say "I told you so". ...er ...but I told you so.

listen to uncle FB and you too could be £140 richer.

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