MANCHESTER: Chelsea keep marching on. The 1-1 draw at Manchester United – admittedly not a ‘Ferguson-style United’ – enhanced expectations that manager Jose Mourinho will be Premier League champion again at the end of the season.

The day’s other games saw Tottenham upset 2-1 at home by Newcastle and Everton win 3-1 at Burnley.

Chelsea, at Old Trafford, came within seconds of an eighth victory of the season. Deep into stoppage time, after Brane Ivanovic had been sent off for a second yellow card, Robin Van Persie drilled home the equaliser to an earlier header by Didier Drogba.

United may feel they deserved the point from a game which saw them create more danger in the first half. However their game began falling to pieces in the second half under the relentless pressure Chelsea imposed in all areas of the pitch.

Not only are Chelsea admirers already forecasting title success but the possibility of achieving it unbeaten. The likes of Eden Hazard provide the skill and Drogba the experience and back-up squad depth to cope with just about any challenge English football has to offer.

Remarkably, Mourinho and United’s Louis Van Gaal had faced each other as managers only once since the days when the Portuguese was translator and then assistant to the Dutchman at Barcelona in the late 1990s.

In those days they lived “15 metres apart” in their apartments, according to Mourinho. Now the old friends and colleagues were brought 15m apart in their respective manager’s benches – but with Van Gaal conceding that he needed to win the Premier League to equal the achievements of the Special One.

Mourinho has won the league in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain plus the Champions League with Porto and Internazionale while Van Gaal has won domestic championships in ‘only’ Holland, Spain and Germany and the Champions League ‘merely’ with Ajax.

The one meeting was the Champions League Final in 2010 when Mourinho’s Inter beat Van Gaal’s Bayern. For the second meeting both managers were more concerned with respective absentees in attack than with their mutual record.

Absent strikers

Mourinho was without nine-goal top scorer Diego Costa because of his recurrent hamstring trouble and without Loic Remy who had pulled a muscle after scoring an early goal against Maribor in the Champions League in midweek. Hence Drogba made his first Premier start for Chelsea since May 2012.

Van Gaal was missing Radamel Falcao through injury and captain Wayne Rooney through suspension. He brought in Marouane Fellaini for a first competitive start of the season to ‘sit on’ Cesc Fabregas who had proved so important to Chelsea’s creative play this season.

The ploy worked in a first half which was high in pace but short on goal openings and in which United created the more half-chances.

Angel Di Maria volleyed high into the crowd early on then Thibaut Courtois, back in goal after missing the Champions League win over Maribor, was quick to intercept when Van Persie cut in from the left. Ex-Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata volleyed high over the bar.

At the other end Drogba should have scored five minutes before the interval after Hazard raced clear but keeper David De Gea saved with his legs.

Drogba made amends seven minutes into the second half. Hazard broke clear through the middle only to see De Gea save for a corner. It was a terrible miss by the Chelsea man but Drogba made no mistake within seconds by heading home the corner.

United appeared to be heading for their third Premier defeat of the season when Van Persie came to their rescue in stoppage time.

Brane Ivanovic collected a red card for a second yellow when he clipped Di Maria’s heels and the foul proved doubly costly. Courtois made a fine save to Fellaini’s header from Di Maria’s free kick but Van Persie thrashed the loose ball home for an equaliser United barely deserved.

In other games . . . 

Sammy Ameobi scored one of the fastest goals by a substitute when he equalised for surprise winners Newcastle seven seconds after entering the game at Tottenham immediately after half-time.

Newcastle won 2-1 after Spurs, having taken a first-half lead through Emmanuel Adebayor, were so shocked they conceded a second goal to Ayoze Perez. It was the Spaniard’s first since his £1m move from Tenerife.

Tottenham were also on the receiving of the fastest Premier goal by a substitute when Nicklas Bendtner headed home for Arsenal on December 22, 2007.

Erik Lamela was unable to repeat the amazing ‘rabona’ goal he scored in the Europa League in midweek as Newcastle went on to celebrate their first away win of the season. Not only did they escape the relegation zone but pushed north-east rivals Sunderland down into it.

Romelu Lukaku was villain and hero as Everton claimed their third win of the season by 3-1 at struggling Burnley. After Samuel Eto’o headed Everton in front Lukaku gave the ball away to present a Burnley equaliser for Danny Ings.

The Belgium striker made amends by shooting Everton back into the lead with his fourth goal of term before man of the match Eto’o secured the points with a 30m drive in the closing minutes.