Home » Champ League, Latest » Match Report: Chelsea 0 Manchester United 1

Carlo Ancelotti had talked about Chelsea’s destiny to win the Champions League this season but there was only one man shaping fate last night. Wayne Rooney.

He has raged against fortune in recent days – in the past year, to be honest – but on Wednesday night he was here, he was there, he was everywhere; and for the right reasons.

This wasn’t about foul language this was about sweet football. This was about the player everyone wants Rooney to be and what he is capable of being.

Sir Alex Ferguson wanted an away goal and Rooney provided it to give United a grip on a place in the last four while loosening Ancelotti’s hold on his own position.

This competition means everything for him and for his Chelsea future. Destiny calls. He cannot see his team drop out impotently and will have to provide a fierce challenge at Old Trafford next week. Is it beyond this team? Quite possibly so and if that is Roman Abramovich’s conclusion, also, then the manager will go.

Chelsea wanted to expunge the memories of Moscow three years ago but they were simply given a reminder that in the intervening years the powers of their big players have waned not increased. United had fortune, also, with Patrice Evra lucky not to concede a 92nd-minute penalty for hacking down Ramires.

The drama was raw and immediate with Rooney’s first involvement sending him to the turf in pain as Michael Essien’s high intervention caught him on the left boot. The Spanish referee waved play on. Soon after and Didier Drogba went to ground claiming he had been elbowed by Rio Ferdinand, who had brushed his arm against the Chelsea striker’s face.

There was certainly an edge. John Terry and Rooney were inevitably goaded and the pace was unrelenting, defenders clearing hurriedly, passes over-hit, strikers snatching at chances – as Fernando Torres did inside the United area after Patrice Evra’s loose pass was intercepted. Before that, Ferdinand had scooped clear when Frank Lampard attempted to head in Jose Bosingwa’s cross.

At one point the pace dropped to 99mph but, only briefly. It was frantic and full of spills and needed a goal to give the tie some definition.

Rooney soon provided it, emphatically, opening his body to side-foot right-footed in off the post to finish a wonderful sweeping move that had been started by Rafael.

The Brazilian full-back scampered into the Chelsea half, allowed Antonio Valencia to take possession and roll the ball back to Michael Carrick who swept it cross-field to Ryan Giggs. The key to the goal was Giggs’s superb first-touch to take him away from Bosingwa and cut the ball back to Rooney.

The striker studiously ignored the cameras with his celebrations, but pointed one finger in the air and threw himself to the turf in delight. He was soon touching the ground again, after another late tackle, this time from Ramires with Ferguson incensed at the eager treatment of Rooney by Chelsea.

The goal was a hammer-blow to the home side. Before it they had created the best opportunity, with Ramires neatly teeing up Drogba, whose powerful rising drive was pushed over by Edwin Van der Sar.

They needed a response and almost secured it when Yuri Zhirkov worked his way down the left and fed Torres. The striker shaped to volley across goal but after chesting the ball down he sliced it and then Rafael was forced to turn Bosingwa’s dangerous low cross away.

Torres provoked United’s anger by forcing his way into the area down the right and then throwing himself, theatrically, under a challenge from Nemanja Vidic.

It was the end of Chelsea’a attacking play for a while as a rapid counter-attack by United led to a period of dominance. Valencia picked out Rooney who eventually crossed for Javier Hernandez who simply couldn’t just stretch his neck muscles enough to flick the ball into the net.

However, Chelsea, time and again, failed to clear and United pushed them back with Ancelotti increasingly exasperated. Eventually they did break out, just on the interval, with Drogba tricking his way past Rafael and crossing for Torres who failed to make contact but distracted Van der Sar enough for the goalkeeper to allow the ball to strike the far post and bounce back out.

It fell to Lampard. Surely he would score? But the midfielder, on his 500th appearance for the club, half-hit his half-volley. Even so it would have been a goal had Evra not been there to turn it away.

It would have been extraordinary, given their dominance, had United not led as the players exited at half-time. Chelsea appeared unable to gain any momentum, caught in a strangle-hold with Rooney applying the pressure and Michael Carrick controlling the midfield over Lampard.

Chelsea’s frustration was palpable but there was an early chance with Ramires reaching Drogba’s centre only to head across goal.

By now it was they who were applying that pressure with Drogba’s overhead kick sliding wide. United heeded the warning and began closing down quicker, moving up the pitch to stem the tide.

Essien volleyed wide but the tempo was too slow until Torres arced his header back towards goal only for Van der Sar to stretch and claw clear superbly.

Soon after he expertly held onto Lampard’s deflected free-kick before Branislav Ivanovic sent in a weak shot after a barrelling run. They could not break through and United didn’t just have the goal; they had the clean sheet and the victory.

Related Posts

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.