Two questionable red cards and an offside goal helped Manchester United to their first win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League since 2002. After an entertaining first half that began with a David Luiz own goal in the fourth minute, a Robin van Persie goal to put Man United up 2-0 in the 12th minute and a brilliant Juan Mata free kick just before halftime to give Chelsea an injection of confidence, referee Mark Clattenburg made himself the star of the match after a Ramires goal equalized for Chelsea in the 53rd minute.
First, Clattenburg showed Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic a straight red when Ashley Young went down as he was breaking towards goal (gif here) in the 63rd minute. Just five minutes later, Clattenburg booked Fernando Torres for a second time for going down even though Jonny Evans caught Torres' shin with his boot (gif here).
That got Torres sent off just as Chelsea were preparing to sub him out for Daniel Sturridge, leaving them with nine men and more than 20 minutes to play. And in the 75th minute, Chicharito scored Man United's inevitable winner from an offside position (top photo) after Petr Cech and the post kept out one attempt (gif here).
As much fun as it can be to make jokes about conspiracies, that wasn't what happened to Chelsea in this match. Mark Clattenburg has been making baffling and infuriatingly bad calls for years and has even drawn the ire of Alex Ferguson in the past. This time, they went against Chelsea.
UPDATE: Chelsea have filed an official complaint over "inappropriate language" from Clattenburg. Sky Sports quotes a Chelsea spokesman as saying:
"We have lodged a complaint to the Premier League match delegate with regards to inappropriate language used by the referee and directed at two of our players in two separate incidents in today's match.
"The match delegate will pass the complaint to the Football Association. We will make no further comment at this time."
A strange complaint for a strange match. What could Clattenburg have said?
UPDATE II: According to the Guardian, the "inappropriate language" Clattenburg used was a racial slur against Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi. Prepare yourselves for another racial abuse controversy.