(CNN) -- At two goals to the good against Chelsea in their FA Cup quarterfinal it looked as if Manchester United were going to bury any lingering demons after their demoralizing Champions League exit to Real Madrid.
Strikes from Mexican forward Javier Hernandez and England international Wayne Rooney inside the ten opening minutes piled more misery on beleaguered Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez as he weathered abuse from both sets of supporters inside Old Trafford.
But the Spaniard made some inspired tactical changes and saw his side draw level thanks to fine goals from Belgian international Eden Hazard and Brazilian midfielder Ramires as only a string of saves from United's Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea prevented Chelsea from a famous win.
Their draw now creates a headache for both clubs, as their hectic schedules between now and the end of the season means fixing a date for the replay will present a significant challenge. Whoever wins will face Manchester City in the semifinals at Wembley.
Benitez was forced to withstand yet more abuse from Chelsea fans angry at his appointment which was added to by taunts from home fans who remember the Spaniard's many battles with Alex Ferguson when he was manager at their archrivals Liverpool.
But after the game Benitez told ITV: "I think we should have won the game. The second half we were on top, we created the best chances and were in control of the game."
On Mata's great chance late on he added: "Mata said De Gea made a great save. We have to think about the first game then after we will think about City. It'll be difficult to win because United are a great side."
Ferguson told reporters: "We're lucky to be in the Cup. We ran out of legs -- our two full-backs, Rafael and Evra, are just knackered."
Cheslea's taxing trip to Romania to play the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday clearly showed in the opening stages as they sunk to a two-goal deficit. Hernandez struck first, looping a header over Petr Cech from Michael Carrick's floated pass.
Rooney made it 2-0 moments later as his left wing free kick went through a crowd of bodies inside the area and crept into the far corner of the net.
Cech made a fine double save to prevent Chelsea going 3-0 down when he stopped a powerful Rooney effort before springing into action again as David Luiz's misplaced header almost looped into the net.
But after Hazard was introduced the game turned and on the hour mark he curled a superb effort into the top corner to give the away side hope.
And the comeback was complete when Chelsea swept down field after a United attack and Ramires cut inside his man to beat De Gea with a precise left-footed finish.
Fernando Torres had a chance to wrap the game up before Mata cut inside Jonny Evans and struck on goal from six yards out but De Gea stuck out a leg to get a vital touch and divert the ball round the post.
The other quarterfinal saw second tier sides Blackburn and Millwall draw 0-0. The winner of that tie will face Premier League side Wigan in the other semifinal.
In the English Premier League a late penalty from captain Steven Gerrard helped Liverpool to a 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur, who opened the door for Chelsea to reclaim third spot in the race for Champions League football.
The clash at Anfield was billed as a battle between two stars gunning for the player of the year crown -- Tottenham's Gareth Bale, and Liverpool's Luis Suarez. Going into the game Bale had ten goals in his last nine games, Suarez 11 in his last 11.
And it was the Uruguayan who struck first for Liverpool, tucking home from Jose Enrique's astute pass to register his 22nd goal of the season. But Tottenham hit back when Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen nodded home Bale's cross right on halftime.
Just eight minutes after the break Vertonghen grabbed his second, rifling home from inside the area after a set piece fell to him, and Tottenham looked set to build on their impressive 3-0 win over Inter Milan in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie in midweek.
But Liverpool responded with two goals in 16 minutes as mistakes from England international Kyle Walker and French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris allowed Stewart Downing to fire Liverpool level.
And with eight minutes remaining Benoit Assou-Ekotto bundled Suarez over inside the penalty area and Gerrard slotted home the penalty to move Liverpool up to sixth in the table. Tottenham remain third, two points ahead of Chelsea, but their London rivals have a game in hand.
The other Premier League game on Sunday saw Newcastle United ease their relegation worries with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Stoke City.
Stoke went in front in the second half when Ivory Coast international Chieck Tiote brought down Jonathan Walters inside the area and the striker picked himself up to convert from the spot.
Newcastle drew level when French international Yohan Cabaye floated a free kick in off the crossbar and in the second minute of injury time Sylvain Marveaux picked out Cisse who controlled before smashing a volley into the net. His side are now nine points clear of the drop zone.