Demba Ba’s winner ended Manchester United’s quest for the domestic Double and secured holders Chelsea an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley.
Ba’s athletic finish early in the second half leaves United concentrating on winning the Premier League title – with a 20th title all but secured as they currently hold a 15-point advantage.
Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez, meanwhile, was able to celebrate victory over old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson and remains in contention to win the FA Cup and Europa League.
Benitez attracted criticism for fielding a weakened side in defeat at Southampton on Saturday as they search for the top-four place that would assure Champions League football next season – but will feel a measure of vindication as this was still a win of some significance.
United were without Wayne Rooney because of a groin injury sustained on England duty and lacked some of their usual menace but it still took a save of the highest class from Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech to keep out Javier Hernandez’s header as they pressed for an equaliser.
They were left to rue the carelessness that saw them cast aside a two-goal lead in the first game and will now focus on next Monday’s derby with Manchester City at Old Trafford.
Chelsea’s agenda shifts to the Europa League quarter-final against Rubin Kazan at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
Inevitably, after playing only 48 hours previously, there was a somewhat unfamiliar look to both sides. As well as being without Rooney, United left Robin van Persie on the bench, although Rio Ferdinand returned in defence.