In the great history of Manchester United comebacks the fightback from 3-nil down against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was right up there with the best of them.
A penalty double from man-of-the-match Wayne Rooney and a point saving header from sub Javier Hernandez served up by the ageless Ryan Giggs crowned this latest escape by the comeback kings.
So irresistible was United’s recovery to finish all-square at 3-3, I would not be surprised if the Red Devils picked up another million followers around the world, such is the remarkable global reach of the Premier League.
While that parochial affair the Super Bowl gets excited about attracting a TV audience of over 100 million once a year, Premier League games are viewed in 643 million homes around the planet.
Officially the world’s No.1 league with an annual audience of 4.7 billion, it is matches like this epic showdown between the two teams who between them have won the Premier League for the last seven seasons that makes it top of the TV viewing figures.
Without England trio John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, the Blues – fortunate to lead 1-0 at half-time courtesy of a Jonny Evans own goal – thought they had the match won when took a 3-0 lead. A stunning Juan Mata volley 24 seconds after the re-start and a David Luiz header deflected home by Rio Ferdinand left United with a mountain to climb.
But the champions bravely rolled the dice when Sir Alex Ferguson sent on subs Hernandez and Paul Scholes and went for broke risking a repeat of that 6-1 thumping by title rivals City. This time the gamble paid off and fortune favoured the bold as United survived a wasted opportunity by Fernando Torres.
Denied two strong penalty appeals in the first half, United got what they deserved when Howard Webb twice pointed to the spot and Rooney planted both spot kicks past Petr Cech. When Hernandez headed the equaliser six minutes from time United sensed a winner but in the end were thankful for a superb fingertip save by David de Gea from Mata.
“That game today epitomises what English football is about,” said Ferguson, who typically was disappointed to see his side drop two points in the chase of League leaders Manchester City.