Quick Links

    cricketnext

    News

    Unconvincing United edge past Chelsea 1-0

    London: A first half goal from Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United the edge in the all-English Champions League tie with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and ensured that Sir Alex Ferguson's side will only need a draw in the return leg at Old Trafford to advance to the semi-finals of Europe's elite competition.

    Rooney has once again been the centre of attention for the back pages since his foul-mouthed rant during the game against West Ham at the weekend and the glare of the media's eye was trained firmly on the striker again.

    So much so that the milestone reached by Frank Lampard in this game - 500 appearances for the club - were barely mentioned in the build up.

    Lampard was keen to force his way centre stage and on 18 minutes he almost did this in the best possible fashion when a slick and incisive passage of play involving Lampard and Ramires resulted in Didier Drogba smashing at shot high at Edwin Van der Sar, with the Dutchman proving equal to the challenge.

    In the corresponding league fixture in March, it was Wayne Rooney who broke the deadlock and once again that pattern emerged. A fantastically long cross field pass initiated by Michael Carrick was deftly controlled by Ryan Giggs who sniffed an opening and headed for the byline. What makes Giggs a great player is his vision in seeing the weak spots in any defence, and with this he spotted Rooney and fed the ball into his path for the striker to beat Petr Cech low to his left with the lightest of touches.

    With the furore of Wayne Rooney's broadcast verbal tirade at the weekend still bubbling along, the scrutiny on Rooney would be more intense than usual. If Rooney were to score, the beady eye of the cameras would be ready to pounce to examine every gesture he would make.

    This time however, Rooney maintained enough self-control to celebrate the goal in a manner more palatable for the TV audience. No contorted face, no turning the air blue, only sheer elation and joy as he gave his side a valuable away goal.

    With this, United were in a desirable position, and they calmly went to seeing out the half with minimum fuss, this was tested to the maximum when just before the half, a cross from Drogba was lightly back-heeled by Fernando Torres only to come back off the post. Frank Lampard's tap on the rebound looked a sure goal but an excellent display of defensive awareness from Patrice Evra kept Chelsea at bay.

    The second period didn't start well for the visitors as Rafael felt the full force of Didier Drogba who clattered into the fullback. He was taken off the field for treatment and his return to the action was short lived. Only moments later he dropped to the ground in pain and was taken from the field on a stretcher. Sir Alex Ferguson was forced into moving his pieces around, Valencia dropped in the right back slot and Nani entered the fray onto the right wing.

    As the game continued Chelsea became clearly frustrated. The chances were not coming for the Blues and this was due in no small part to the rigidity of the United back four. With Rio Ferdinand making his first appearance since February, he resumed his partnership with Nemanja Vidic and that showed.

    Carlo Ancelotti was forced into make changes in search of a way back. Yuri Zhirkov and Drogba were replaced with Flourent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka. But still United held back the tide. Chelsea began to throw men forward and this tactic almost paid off when Ramires' run in to the box was halted by Evra who may have been lucky in not conceding a late penalty shout.

    That wasn't the last of the penalty box action as Torres was booked for diving whilst looking for the call in his favour.

    United may have been lucky not to concede one of those calls but they will be satisfied with their night's work.