Monday, August 9, 2010

Chelsea 1-3 Manchester United


Manchester United lifted the first trophy of the 2010/11 season with a 3-1 Community Shield victory over last season's league and cup winners Chelsea.
United took a first half lead after an excellent quick-fire move that culminated in an Antonio Valencia goal, before Hernandez's second half scuffle bobbled beyond Hilario in the second. A late Salomon Kalou strike narrowed the gap and gave a platform to rally a comeback from before Dimitar Berbatov sealed victory with a fine chip in injury time.
Both sides welcomed back absentees who had been missing with injury. For United Michael Owen made his first competitive appearance since falling foul of the Wembley turf in the Carling Cup final in February, while Chelsea afforded a start to Michael Essien, who missed the World Cup with Ghana after playing little football throughout last season.
Neither manager handed first eleven berths to their summer signings, with Javier Hernandez and Yossi Benayoun watching from the bench after making their respective moves to the Premier League runners-up and winners.
Partnering Owen upfront for United was Wayne Rooney, returning from a poor World Cup in South Africa, but the striker showed early signs of the club form that saw him score 34 times in the last campaign. Early in the match the ex-Evertonian dropped deep to collect the ball and hit a measured pass that bypassed the Chelsea backline and fell to Antonio Valencia, but the Ecuadorian failed to beat Hilario with a lofted shot.
First Half
The former Wigan winger turned provider moments later after finding space down the right hand side, but his weighted cross to Paul Scholes, in space in the middle of the box, saw the veteran midfielder disappointingly smash the ball over.
At the other end, Chelsea's first effort on goal came courtesy of a stinging drive from Nicolas Anelka that had Edwin van der Sar sprawling across the goal to tip it away. Saloman Kalou collected the loose ball and rounding the Dutchman, but with the angle against him he elected to pass across goal, allowing Brazilian full back Fabio to clear after a clattering challenge on Essien.
Last season's double winners should have done better soon after from a free-kick out wide, but Frank Lampard's rolled short pass to Florent Malouda was poorly anticipated as the Frenchman scuffed his shot from the edge of the area.
They would come closer on 17 minutes via another set-piece, this time delivered by Malouda from deep, with Branislav Ivanovic rising above his marker and planting a header to the far corner, but an acrobatic van der Sar was on hand to tip the ball wide.
United were soon threatening Chelsea once more, with a clever Scholes chip finding Rooney in the area, but the Red Devils' powerful striker could only drag his shot wide of Hilario's goal whilst Owen did not react quick enough to turn in the loose ball.
What had been a highly entertaining opening soon petered out into a stop-start and slipshod affair, with both sides struggling to conjure up telling final balls and exchanging periods of possession to little effect as only a flurry of half chances that tested neither keeper. The frustration was epitomised in a brief period of activity that saw a sweeping Chelsea move end with a limp Lampard pass to van der Sar, before a stellar cross-field ball from Scholes picked out Valencia in space and with support, only for the winger to smack his cross into the legs of Ashley Cole .
Finally United were able to piece together a well worked move as Scholes – who had sprayed the ball with precision throughout the first half – picked out Rooney running towards the corner flag, and the Englishman turned the ball into the box where a sprinting Valencia powerfully struck into the roof of yet.
The goal added impetus to what had become a sloppy and stuttering game, with Rooney reinvigorated and tracking back with gusto to begin moves, and Essien hitting narrowly wide from distance as Chelsea pressed for an equaliser prior to the break.
Second Half
Half-time saw, as promised by Sir Alex Ferguson, the withdrawals of Rooney, Owen, and Park Ji-Sung with Javier Hernandez, Dimitar Berbatov, and Nani coming on, with Carlo Ancelotti opting to make no changes.
Malouda had the first chance of note in the second half after allowing a pass to roll around his body before unleashing a left-footed drive that had van der Sar beaten before glancing just wide of the far post.
Hernandez – with the nickname 'Chicharito' adorned on his shirt – then showed glimpses of what his manager deemed worthy of shelling out a reported £7million for after latching onto a Scholes pass and slipping a neat first-time ball through to Berbatov, but the Bulgarian couldn't quite reach it.
United showed further quick thinking from a free kick minutes later. As Chelsea players surrounded referee Andre Marriner, Scholes slipped the ball to midfield partner Michael Carrick who beat one blue shirt before passing to Valencia in space, but again the Ecuadorian could not pick out a team-mate despite being under little pressure.
Chelsea failed to prise open United after 15 minutes, and Ancelotti deemed it necessary to bring on Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge for Anelka and Jon Obi Mikel – with Malouda shifting into the middle of the pitch alongside Essien and Lampard as Kalou dropped to the left hand side of the pitch to accommodate the two incoming strikers.
The moves looked to have made the anticipated impact as Chelsea pushed forward with greater poise, and Kalou came close just minutes after the reshuffle after receiving the ball from Malouda, but the young Ivorian's shot was well caught by the veteran van der Sar.
Kalou and Malouda teamed up again moments later to tee up Essien, who shaped up and hit a distinctively venemous strike from range that only just steered wide of the United goal.
The strength and guile of Drogba would be seen too, as the talisman out-muscled Scholes and Carrick before splitting the defence with a pass to Malouda that necessitated a brave block from van der Sar.
The Dutch keeper, however, soon had a horror moment that he should really have been punished from. A high cross from Paulo Ferreira ought to have been grasped, but van der Sar could only tip it to Cole at the far post, but the left back had to wait for the ball to sit before awkwardly angling a shot straight at the keeper who had retreated to the goal line.

Both managers introduced two d├ębutantes with Chris Smalling replacing Jonny Evans for United and Yossi Benayoun, a surprise signing from Liverpool, coming on for Malouda.
It was another substitute who would get the second goal of the game as Hernandez opened his account in English football after somewhat fortunately turning in a rare accurate cross from Valencia, who had raced clear of Cole before turning the ball across the face of the goal to the debut boy, who first slipped, then smashed the ball into the ground before it bounced off his head and into the back of the net.
That signalled a second double substitution from Ancelotti, with Yuri Zhirkov – rumoured to be leaving England for a return to Russian football with Zenit St Petersburg – switching for Cole, and youngster Jeffrey Bruma replacing Ferreira. Ryan Giggs came on at the same time to make his 13th Community Shield appearance in a straight swap for Carrick.
Chelsea substitute Sturridge should have closed the gap with a splendid chance after receiving the ball through the right channel, but the former Manchester City striker couldn't manage to lift it over van der Sar on his favoured left foot.
Sturridge, however, would be integral to his side's fortunes just moments later after confidently striding forward from the right wing and hitting a rocket of a shot that van der Sar could only parry into the path of Kalou who was left with a simple finish.
A similar opportunity would present itself to Drogba, again following another Sturridge shot, but the Ivorian – returning from surgery and an injury ridden World Cup – could only hit the side netting from a seemingly offside position.
Zhirkov then fizzed a cross across the face of goal that was clattered away from goal before a touch of class from Berbatov saw United's two goal advantage restored. The Bulgarian finished an exquisite team move with a superb chip over Hilario from just outside the area.

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