Juan Mata struck in the 87th minute as Chelsea boosted their top-four hopes with a 1-0 at Manchester United on Sunday.
The Spaniard struck following a game bereft of quality, while the hosts had Rafael sent off late on for a kick on David Luiz as the champions slumped to defeat.
United made five changes as Anders Lindegaard, Nemanja Vidic, Anderson, Tom Cleverley and Ryan Giggs replaced David de Gea, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney and Nani.
The away continued their rotation policy with Ashley Cole, Juan Mata, Demba Ba and Gary Cahill all coming in. Eden Hazard missed out with a groin strain.
It was Chelsea who made the brighter start to the game. A well-worked one-two between Mata and Victor Moses resulted in the Spaniard crossing towards the back post but he put it behind Ba who skewed his header.
The visitors could have twice taken the lead when first Oscar broke away from the right-hand side of his own half, he powered into the box but had his shot pushed onto the post be Lindegaard before Moses blasted over from the Brazilian's centre.
Quality moments were few and far between for either side. Van Persie and Ba shot off target as frustrations began to rumble down from the stands.
Cleverley had another chance from outside the box, as Giggs played a dangerous ball into the box that Petr Cech parried away. Driving onto the ball, the England international blazed it high into the stand.
Van Persie had United's best chance just before half-time, Giggs split the Chelsea defence with his through-ball down the left and the Dutchman tried to apply the finish with the outside of his boot, but it hit his shin and went wide of the near post.
The second half began in the same manner as the first ended with both sides struggling to carve out chances.
Chelsea came close when Cesar Azpilicueta chipped a pass to Mata in the box, he pulled it back for Frank Lampard but the midfielder hit his effort over.
Rooney entered the fray for United in the 69th minute and almost grabbed the opener soon after. Antonio Valencia's cross was met by the Englishman but he was off balance and the ball bounced out of play.
At the other end, Lampard was afforded space to cross and whipped a ball in that Mata could only scuff off target from six yards, before it was cleared for a corner.
But the Spaniard finally broke the deadlock with just three minutes to go. A Chelsea counter-attack saw Ramires burst through midfield before finding Oscar, he laid to Mata on the left-hand side of the box and the 25-year-old applied the finish into the far corner.
Moments later, Rafael received a straight red card for kicking Luiz. as the centre-back tried to run the ball out for a goal kick.
Chelsea safely saw out injury-time to secure three points and tighten their grip on a UEFA Champions League place, leaving them three points ahead of Tottenham in fifth ahead of the sides' meeting on Wednesday.
|4||P. Jones||81' 87'|
|20||R. van Persie|
|Coach: A. Ferguson|
for T. Cleverley 68'
for Anderson 69'
for A. Valencia 90'
|Tevez hints at imminent retirement|
|England in safe hands with Southgate - Glenn|
|Holman talks up A-League quality|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Red Bulls progress, Timbers win|
|Januzaj blow for Sunderland|
|Navas accepts blame for Dortmund equaliser|
|Sporting assistant Raul Jose pleased with win|
|Nuno left to regret slow start as Porto fail on English soil again|
|Simeone: I am not Griezmann´s mentor|
|Vardy rejected Arsenal due to style|
|Schmidt bemoans ´brutal´ Monaco equaliser|
|Ranieri doesn´t trust bookies over England job|
|Genesio worried wastefulness will cost Lyon in long run|
|Preud´homme admits Champions League too much for Club Brugge|
|Telegraph passes findings to FA after further corruption claims|
|Zidane: Draw difficult to accept|
|Pochettino delighted with in-form Son|
|Vietto undeterred by wasteful showing|
|Tuchel: Dortmund can still get better|
|Resilient Leicester display pleases Morgan|
|Glenn reflects on ´painful´ call to dismiss ´distraught´ Allardyce|
|Borussia Dortmund 2 Real Madrid 2: Late Schurrle strike salvages draw|
|Monaco 1 Bayer Leverkusen 1: Glik stunner snatches a point|
|Dinamo Zagreb 0 Juventus 4: Pjanic pilots comfortable victory|
|CSKA Moscow 0 Tottenham 1: In-form Son hits late winner|
|Copenhagen 4 Club Brugge 0: Delaney stunner helps Danish champions canter to victory|
|Sporting CP 2 Legia Warsaw 0: Magiera´s first game ends in defeat|
|Sevilla 1 Lyon 0: Ben Yedder seals win for Europa League holders|
|Leicester City 1 Porto 0: Slimani continues to haunt old foes|
|Shearer: Allardyce has made England a laughing stock|
|Howe, Pardew and Wenger among the contenders to succeed Allardyce|
|Emery´s PSG struggles give Ludogorets hope|
|Allardyce offers ´wholehearted apology´ for England shame|
|Lahm: ´Extraordinary´ Griezmann different to Lewandowski|
|Iniesta is the best in the world, claims Menotti|
|Irregular heartbeat ends Dempsey´s season|
|Bournemouth ´realistic´ over permanent deal for Wilshere|
|Guardiola warns against complacency|
|Allardyce and England part company after damning video|
|De Bruyne out for up to three weeks - Guardiola|
|Luis Enrique demands fast start at Gladbach|
|Ancelotti wary of Atletico threat|
|Al Ain 3 El Jaish 1: Caio capitalises on late error|
|Ter Stegen happy with solution to Bravo battle|
|Emery: PSG need time to gel|
|Hernandez: It was very difficult at Real Madrid|
|Derby stand down Pearson ahead of Cardiff match|
|Rodgers sympathises with ´poor guy´ Allardyce|
|Opponents are trying to get Ribery send off - Hoeness|
|Martino named Atlanta United head coach|
|Rodgers urges Celtic to have belief against City|
|Rodgers has made same impact as Guardiola - Brown|
|Benfica one of the best in Europe, warns Sarri|
|Menotti: Ronaldo never played in a team like Messi´s|
|Walcott happy to move on from Arsenal struggles|
|Champions League Matchday Two: Bayern hunt Atleti revenge|
|Coquelin facing three weeks out|
|Arsenal transfers beyond reproach, says Wenger|
|Schubert extends Gladbach contract|
|Lewandowski urges Bayern to learn from Atletico defeat|
|Griezmann feared Simeone to PSG was ´a done deal´|
|FA investigating Allardyce claims|
|Valencia keep Voro in charge for Atletico clash|
|One of Serie A´s all-time greats: The numbers behind Totti at 40|
|Toure brands FIFA ´complacent´ after racism taskforce closed|
|Emery expects Ronaldo to stay at Real Madrid|
|Tottenham not scared of Moscow trip - Alderweireld|
|Sessegnon signs with Montpellier|
|Rakitic delighted with form|
|Gameiro: I could have joined Barcelona|
|Stones talks up Celtic quality|
|Liverpool good enough to win title - Houllier|
|Klopp happy with Firmino in central role|
|Watford got bullied all over the pitch - Deeney|
|Nuno keen for Porto to end England misery|
|Legia boss Magiera set for whirlwind debut|
|´Terrific´ Burnley delight Dyche|
|Burnley 2 Watford 0: Landmark goals for Hendrick and Keane seal first win in four|
|Schmidt lauds hitman Hernandez|
|Klopp not banking on Liverpool winning title|
|Kroos plays down Ronaldo rage rumours|
|Confidence coursing through Copenhagen|
|Madrid form draws no concern for Zidane|
|Burki looking forward to ´dream´ Madrid clash|
|Juve and Higuain have work to do - Allegri|
|CSKA boss Slutski wary of Tottenham threat|
|Pochettino: Kane to return within three weeks|
|City youngster Diaz signs three-year deal|
|Aurier vows to ´continue working hard´ for PSG despite prison sentence|
|Tuchel expecting Ronaldo on top form|
|Ter Stegen eyes new Barcelona deal|
|Hazard: No excuse for Arsenal defeat|
|Cisse back in training with Auxerre|
|Hummels resumes training ahead of Atletico clash|
|Facing Barcelona´s MSN not a nightmare, insists Bravo|
|Thiago: Atletico defence best in the world|
|Alonso wants to end career at Bayern Munich|
|Ranieri went to Slimani for Porto advice|
|Draxler: Wolfsburg blocked my exit|
|Samoura defends abolishment of racism task force|
|Sampaoli backs Nasri for France recall|
|Gisdol ´twitching with joy´ at Hamburg presentation|
|Zanetti determined Inter will return to the top|
|Getafe sack Esnaider|
|Bartra happy with playing time at Dortmund|
|Aurier handed two-month prison sentence over police altercation|
|Klopp attributes Lallana´s fine form to hard work|
|Totti´s wife slams ´small man´ Spalletti|
|Guardiola has already done an amazing job at Manchester City - Alonso|
|Referees attacked by hooligans in Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Griezmann: I am not the anti-Benzema|
|Sterling hails Guardiola´s role in goalscoring form|
|Champions League Matchday Two: Madrid look for first win in Dortmund|
|Smalling confident Rooney will bounce back|
|Vardy fears ´permanent stain against my name´ following casino incident|
|Brave Wilshere will reap rewards of loan move - Howe|
|MLS Review: Sounders surprise Galaxy, Kamara double sinks New England|
|Walcott a special case - Wenger|
|Guardiola striving for more after perfect 10|
|Chelsea risk another mid-table finish, admits Conte|
|Montella feels AC Milan lacked courage|