A first-half goal by Wayne Rooney was all the Red Devils needed, as Manchester United was able to steal the show and the away-goal advantage. This was United’s first victory at Stamford Bridge since 2002 and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Chelsea started the game quickly, stirring up a few chances through Drogba. As the game progressed, Manchester gained its rhythm and slowly began to control the midfield. In the 24th min., Carrick delivered a magnificent long-ball across the field to Giggs, who somehow controlled it with ease. Giggs was then able to take the ball down the byline, eventually picking out Wayne Rooney in the penalty-box. The rest was history, as Rooney tucked the ball into the back of the net. In the second-half, United played more defensive-minded, clearly frustrating Chelsea. Even though they allowed the Blues more space, Manchester disrupted Chelsea’s passing and shooting lanes. United, however, dodged a bullet in stoppage time in the second-half, when the ref missed an easy penalty call. Ramires made a run into the box but was taken down by Evra, as he came in stretched from behind. United got lucky that a penalty wasn’t called because 9 out or 10 times the whistle is blown in that situation. Other than that, United’s team-defense was superb and relentless. They definitely showed championship caliber poise tonight.
Overall, I thought it was a very entertaining match. The scoreboard may not describe it, but this game showed high-quality soccer throughout the pitch. Rio Ferdinad’s return to the starting line-up made a huge different tonight, since he is United’s anchor. His pairing with Vidic made life difficult for Chelsea, as both them made sure to put a body on their opponents. United’s defense once again denied Torres’ first goal for the Blues. Torres had one pinpoint opportunity, but was unable to connect on a cross from Bosingwa. The difference maker of the game was Rooney’s ability to finish, as Torres still cannot find the back of the net. Some may argue the penalty call, but that is just an excuse. Torres is definitely proving everyone that he is not worth that ridiculous transfer fee. He looks as if he is lacking confidence in himself, as he tried to “alligator-flick” Bosingwa’s cross instead of tucking it way with authority. The pairing of Torres and Drogba is still unable to deliver, putting Chelsea in a hole. Regardless, this match is far from over. Chelsea has already proven to us that they can win at Old Trafford, winning 2-1 in their previous match-up. Expect an entertaining second-leg, since this is the only return leg that still matters.
Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United