Any hopes Manchester United had of a late surge up the table and a title challenge have been completely dashed by Sunday's poor performance and result. Chelsea took advantage of some very poor midfield play and defending by the Red Devils, taking an early 3-0 lead before eventually going on to win the match, 3-1.
Ashley Young had the first big chance of the match for United, forcing a big save out of Petr Cech in the 2nd minute, but the tables turned quickly. The first of three goals from Samuel Eto'o came in the 17th minute, off a deflected shot from the edge of the penalty area. He beat Phil Jones with an excellent move that made the United midfielder fall down, then hit a shot that bounced off Michael Carrick, looping over the head of David De Gea.
United had a chance to change the game in the 38th minute, but Danny Welbeck failed to take a golden opportunity. Chelsea's defense was caught standing still on a cross into the center of the box by Adnan Januzaj, but Welbeck couldn't find his footing and gifted Cech an easy save.
That miss came back to haunt the visitors before the end of the first half. In stoppage time, Eto'o netted his second, capitalizing on some poor marking after a corner. United cleared Chelsea's initial set piece effort, but they got the ball back into the box for Gary Cahill, who squared for Eto'o to finish from eight yards just before the halftime break.
The match was all but put to bed four minutes after the start of the second half, with Cahill and Eto'o combining again, and a corner undoing United for the second time. Jonny Evans lost Cahill, who hit a powerful header that De Gea could only push away. It fell to Eto'o, who finished off the chance for his hat trick to extend Chelsea's lead.
Javier Hernandez pulled a goal back for United in the 78th minute, finishing off a shot from Jones that was headed wide, but it didn't spark a United revival. Chelsea controlled the rest of the match and, out of utter frustration, Nemanja Vidic picked up a straight red card in stoppage time for hacking down Eden Hazard with a two-footed tackle. The end of the game also featured the second Chelsea debut of Nemanja Matic, who was purchased from Benfica this week.
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Ramires, Willian (Matic 86'), Oscar (Mikel 68'), Hazard, Eto'o (Torres (79')
Goals: Eto'o (17', 45'', 48')
Manchester United: De Gea, Evra (Smalling 51'), Evans, Vidic (red 90'), Rafael, Jones, Carrick, Young (Hernandez 56'), Januzaj, Valencia, Welbeck
Goals: Hernandez (78')