Manchester United (Vidic 45′ + 2, Rooney 63′, Berbatov 87′) 3-0 Chelsea
Stadium: Old Trafford, England.
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 11 January 2009
Kickoff: 16:00 GMT, 11:00 ET
Manchester United defeated Chelsea, 3-0, to close to within five points behind Liverpool with 2 matches in hand! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
By any measure, these two squads have been the two best clubs in English football over the last several years. Now, both teams face a must-win situation early in the second-half of the season as Chelsea will pay a visit to Manchester United.
When they met in September, Chelsea rallied back from a 1-0 deficit to escape with a point to keep their home unbeaten streak intact. Since that time, Chelsea have undergone a considerable amount of unrest and turmoil despite standing a mere 3 points behind Liverpool for the league lead. They’ll come into this fixture having dropped points against West Ham, Everton, and Fulham, as well as being held to a tie against lowly Southend United in the F.A. Cup last weekend. Things got so bad that Chelsea even held the dreaded “Players Only” meeting and seem to be on the verge of coming apart at the seams. A loss to United won’t kill them, but it would certainly damage the players’ already fragile psyche.
If Chelsea have been struggling to match their early-season form, then Manchester United have yet to show what they’re capable of. United got an early Christmas gift as neither Liverpool nor Chelsea were able to open up much of a lead while the defending champions were in Japan for the World Club Cup. United always seem to play better after Boxing Day, however, their recent form raises more questions than answers. A tired and jet-lagged team were able to scrape out a tough win at Stoke on Boxing Day, however they needed a late Berbatov goal to get past Middlesbrough. Worse, they lost to Derby County in midweek in the first leg of their Carling Cup semifinals, and continue to have problems on offense. They’ll need a win in order to jumpstart their 2009, otherwise things might be over for them sooner rather than later.
Who will win in this highly-anticipated clash between the two teams that have won the last 4 league titles and played for the Champions League title last spring? Tune in and find out!
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville (c), Evans, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Berbatov.
Subs: Kuszczak, Anderson, Carrick, Scholes, Welbeck, O’Shea, Tevez.
Ferdinand’s injury must be worse than originally thought, as he will miss out completely. Giggs will come in for Carrick, which is a little surprising. Another eyebrow-raiser as Neville will also get the start, and it will be interesting to see if Chelsea attacks him early on. Finally, Evra will return to the lineup after serving his suspension, ironically, as a result of what happened at Stamford Bridge last season.
Chelsea Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry (c), A. Cole, Mikel, J. Cole, Lampard, Ballack, Deco, Drogba.
Subs: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Ferreria, Kalou, Belletti, Anelka.
Several changes from the side that drew, 2-2, against Fulham. John Terry will return to the lineup after serving his three-match ban after getting sent off against Everton. Carvalho will come in for Alex while Ballack (who came up huge against United during their end-of-the-season clash last season) will start in place of Malouda. No pairing of Anelka and Drogba just yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it at some point in this match.
90′ + 3 Great cross from the right flank by Belletti to Drogba. He shoves Evans out of the way and heads it towards goal, but it’s off target. Didn’t matter anyway, as Drogba gets called for the foul. There’s the whistle and we’re done! Thanks to everyone who followed along! I’ll see you next time!
90′ + 1 Three minutes will be added on. Corner to Chelsea, but Ballack’s header is over the crossbar.
90′ Another chance for United as Berbatov and Rooney are up against Carvalho. Berbatov’s return pass to Rooney is poor, though, and Chelsea avert disaster.
89′ Tevez is sitting down and he won’t be getting in this game. Not to fan the flames or anything, but he doesn’t look happy.
88′ Drogba shows some frustration as he shoves Evans near the end-line. The ball goes off Evans, but the ref calls Drogba for the foul.
87′ GOAL! Ronaldo will take the free kick from deep down the left wing. He sends it in and Berbatov waltzes into the box and easily puts it past Cech. Great finish from Berbatov as it looked like Di Santo just let him go and Berbatov got behind Ballack for the easy goal.
86′ Ronaldo makes the move down the left on Belletti, and he easily beats him off the dribble. Belletti tackles him from behind and he gets rightly booked for that challenge.
85′ J. Cole will come off for Di Santo.
84′ Giveaway from Carvalho and Ronaldo gets a chance from long range. It’s got some nasty curve on it, but it’s just wide of the post. Wow. That thing was bending.
83′ Terrible call as Berbatov springs Ronaldo with a brilliant through-ball. He easily puts it past Cech, but he’s called off-side. Replay shows he was clearly on-side. Oh well.
82′ Ronaldo’s free kick goes off the wall and nearly gives Cech some problems before it goes out for a corner. On the replay, it looks like it may have hit one of the Chelsea defenders’ hand. United got a penalty for the same play in their F.A. Cup match last week.
81′ Terry with a cynical foul on Berbatov and it’s clear that the skipper’s frustration is showing.
80′ Terry gets booked for a foul on Park. Berbatov with a great diving pass to hit Rooney in stride. Webb blows it dead, though, and gives United the free kick. United would have preferred the advantage, though. What a nice pass from Berbatov, though. I want to see that again.
79′ Belletti has it inside the box and he looks set to shoot. O’Shea makes a good tackle on him, though, and takes it away. Meanwhile, Carrick will come on for Giggs, who played a heck of a game, and gets a rousing ovation from the Old Trafford faithful.
78′ Rooney nearly gets behind the defense. I say nearly because he was called off-side. So he really did get behind the defense. Just not legally.
77′ Drogba loses it to Park and he keys the counterattack. Rooney gets it in the box, but A. Cole does a good job closing him down and taking it away. That’s right! I praised Ashley Cole!
76′ Rooney leads the charge and he has Ronaldo to his left. Poor pass from Rooney, though, Chelsea knock it away.
74′ J. Cole with a shot that hits Drogba in the back. Chelsea can’t seem to get anything going.
73′ Ronaldo catches Lampard’s foot, and the two play nice afterwards. Lampard sends in a free kick from about 35 yards away. It’s flicked to a wide-open Drogba, who is all alone on the right edge of the box. He whiffs on the half-volley, otherwise, he might have had a goal there.
72′ Drogba gets in the box, but Evans has him well-marked. He sends in a dangerous cross to the far post, but Neville heads it away.
71′ Long free kick from Lampard that Van der Sar confidently claims. Drogba and Anelka try the one-two, but Vidic intercepts it. Anelka trips Vidic, but Webb plays the advantage. Ronaldo then sends a long cross from the left to the far post, but it eludes Rooney and Cech takes it.
70′ Neville with another good defensive play, as he steps in front of the cross intended for A. Cole and heads it away. If he and Rafael keep playing well, then I think Wes Brown will have a real tough time getting into the lineup once he gets healthy.
68′ Van der Sar has had nothing to do so far. Really poor effort from Chelsea on offense thus far. Park gets booked for a dive on Terry.
66′ Good work from Fletcher to take it away in midfield. He sends it to Berbatov, who holds it until he can get reinforcements. Rooney then gets booked for a foul on Carvalho. Well, we knew it was coming. Meanwhile, Evra is out and O’Shea is on.
65′ Park with some good defense to cut out J. Cole’s pass into the box. Chelsea have to press here, since Evra is still out.
64′ Evra is limping slightly, which is bad news for United. Meanwhile, Chelsea bring in Belletti for Bosingwa. Can they come from 2-down? We’ll see.
63′ GOAL! Great cross from Evra down the left flank after he makes an overlapping run with Ronaldo. His cross just eludes Berbatov’s head, but Rooney is there to tap it in. His shot goes between A. Cole’s legs and easily beats Cech. Wow!
62′ Ronaldo tries to play it through to Berbatov on the break, but the Bulgarian gets closed down by two defenders. Plus, he wasn’t running very hard, either, but I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you that.
61′ Giggs and Ronaldo are over it. Let’s see who takes it. Ronaldo takes it and he must think he’s driving his Ferrari as he hits the wall.
60′ Tevez is up and he gets a warm hand from the crowd, despite his comments earlier in the week about his contract situation. Meanwhile, Ronaldo is fouled by Mikel from about 35 yards away.
58′ Ballack wins a corner for his club. Lampard’s corner comes in and Fletcher heads it away. Mikel gets it, but his service into the box is poor and is out for a goal kick. Mikel is having a nightmarish game so far.
57′ Rooney lays it off to Berbatov, who finds Ronaldo down the left. He gets closed down by Bosingwa, though, and Chelsea clear it away. Superb defending from Bosingwa.
56′ Lampard gets it in the box, but Evans has him well marked. He sends it back out to Drogba, but his shot is well over the crossbar. Chelsea get it back and Anelka tries his luck from long-range, but it just goes wide of the far post.
55′ Joe Cole sends a deep cross from the edge of the box. It’s cleared away by Neville.
54′ Ronaldo wins a corner and they play it short. Ronaldo whips a dangerous cross that goes across goal. It just eludes Berbatov at the far post, otherwise he would have easily tapped it in.
53′ Giggs with a nice ball through to Park. He can’t control it, though, and United have to reset. That would have been a goal if Park had been able to control it.
51′ Berbatov with a nice bit of skill to control Evans’ clearance. He dances along the sideline and is fouled by Mikel. He makes it look so easy out there that you wonder why he can be so inconsistent.
50′ A. Cole tries his luck from long range, but it’s easily handled by Van der Sar.
49′ Ronaldo dances on the right wing and sends a cross into the box that’s too deep and easily taken by Cech. Long pass down the left flank towards J. Cole, but Van der Sar is out to knock it away.
47′ Evans with some good defense on Drogba, who gets behind everyone and seems to have a good shot opportunity. It’s out for a Chelsea throw.
46′ Ask and ye shall receive. Anelka will be coming into the match for Deco. United kick off and we’re underway! Deco has a calf problem, apparently. Park tries to thread it through to Rooney, but he gives it away.
The match was pretty even up until the injury time, when United really put the foot to the pedal. They probably deserve the lead, but it’s hardly a convincing one. Let’s see what the managers do at half time. For Chelsea, I’d expect to see Anelka, especially with Evans looking shaky in the back. See you in the second half!
45′ + 2 GOAL! Take two on the corner. Giggs’ corner is flicked to the far post by Berbatov. Vidic then heads it past Cech for the score!
45′ + 1 Some controversy on the corner as Giggs takes it quickly. They seem to catch Chelsea off guard and Ronaldo puts it past Cech, but Webb blows it dead. The flag hadn’t gone up yet, so the corner has to be taken again. Rooney is really getting in the linesman’s face, and he needs to cool it. He’s lucky that he hasn’t been booked yet.
45′ Two good chances for United as Evra’s cross is deflected by J. Cole. Mikel muffs his clearance and Park gets it in the box. He lays it off to Ronaldo, whose shot hits Rooney in the back. Fletcher then has a chance, but his shot is deflected out for a corner.
44′ Good buildup by United that leads to a shot from Park. He fires on target and has Cech beaten, but Terry deflects it out before it can go it. Corner to United. Nothing doing on the corner
42′ Evans makes a mistake and nearly gives it away, but Giggs is there to cover for him.
40′ Ballack is by himself on the left edge of the box. He tries to cross it to the right, but Evra is there and knocks it away from danger. I’m surprised he didn’t shoot that one. Very even first half with neither team really asserting itself.
39′ Long cross into the box for Ballack. He goes up for the header, but Neville heads it away before Ballack can get his dangerous head on it. Neville has been playing well lately. I guess rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
38′ Drogba gets it on the right edge of the box and works on Evans. He tries to center it, but Evans knocks it away for the corner. Lampard sends in the corner, but Carvalho can’t get to the ball. Rooney gives it away in his own half, but Neville covers for him and clears it away.
36′ Drogba gives it away to Park and United will reset their offense. Ronaldo tries to whip in a low cross from the left, but Cech takes it.
34′ Free kick for United from about 35 yards away as Evra gets fouled by Mikel. Giggs sends it in, but Terry clears it away.
33′ Long pass to Park down the left. He eases up as it comes off Bosingwa, but the refs award a goal kick instead.
32′ Lampard springs A. Cole down the left. He centers it and Drogba gets his head on it, but he lacks power and it’s easily saved by Van der Sar. Meanwhile, Ballack dives in the box, trying to win the penalty, but Webb isn’t fooled. He should have been booked for that.
31′ Neville slips up when trying to pass it back to Van der Sar, and the ball is loose. Vidic gets to it before Drogba can pounce on it, and he sends it long to Evra. He gives it to Rooney on the edge of the box, who releases Berbatov. He has a great chance to score, but he can’t get his body square and the ball is easily saved by Cech.
30′ Apparently, someone pulled the fire-alarm at Chelsea’s hotel this morning. I’m betting it was Carlos Queiroz.
28′ Giggs sends it into the box and Ronaldo falls down before he can get his head on it. He and Carvalho are jawing at each other and it’s Portuguese on Portuguese violence! Ronaldo gets called for the foul, but both men go into the book for their extracurricular activities.
27′ Ballack backheels it to Lampard, who fires a hard shot that Evans defends well. Down the other way as Rooney attacks Bosingwa down the left flank. Bosingwa hits Rooney with a dangerous tackle and he’ll go into the book.
26′ Lampard sends in the kick from the left wing and it’s headed out for a throw by Rooney.
25′ Giggs sends it in, and it bounces around in the box a little until Chelsea clear it away. Chelsea go on the attack and Bosingwa attacks down the left. Rooney tracks back and takes it away, but is called for a foul. Rooney is incensed and he shows some dissent. No card, though, but Webb gives him a talking to. Wow, I was convinced he was getting booked there. Maybe Webb’s New Year’s Resolution was to give out fewer cards.
24′ Ronaldo’s kick takes a deflection and United will have a corner.
23′ Giggs sends it in and it’s right at Cech, who punches it away. Rooney then gets fouled by J. Cole from about 30 yards out. Ronaldo will get a chance here.
22′ Park gets it and gives it to Rooney. He lays it off to Ronaldo deep down the right flank, and he crosses into the box. It clearly strikes A. Cole’s arm, but it’s outside the box. United will have a free kick from the right edge of the box as a result of the handball.
17′ Evans is called for the foul on J. Cole and Lampard will take the free kick from near the center line. He sends it in and it looks like it may have hit Evra’s arm, but no call from the refs. On the replay, it looks like it hit his head.
16′ Ballack sends in a hard cross into the box that gets cut out by Vidic. Ashley Cole goes through and nearly gets a chance on goal, but Van der Sar is out to take it.
14′ Lampard and Ballack are standing over it. Ballack takes it and he seems to mishit it. It goes under the wall, but lacks power and is easily cleared away. Wasted chance for Chelsea. They come back and Lampard nearly springs Drogba in the box with a through-ball, but Drogba slips on the pitch and can’t get the return pass.
13′ Deco is fouled by Fletcher on the edge of the box, and this will be a great chance for Chelsea. Let’s see what they can do here.
12′ Pass to J. Cole on the edge of the box, but Evra sneaks up behind him and takes it. Evans tries to send a long pass to the right wing for Ronaldo, but it’s cut out by A. Cole.
11′ Giggs makes a strong run towards the box, but he gives it away.
10′ Ballack gets his pocket picked by Park and Berbatov gets it. He tries a long pass into the box for Rooney, but Cech takes it.
8′ Rooney makes a good move into the box, but Carvalho is there to knock it away.
7′ Ronaldo sends in a cross from deep down the right. Cech is out to intercept it, but he drops it! Luckily for him, no red shirts are around him, otherwise that would have been an embarrassing gaffe. Cech’s psyche bears watching. Scolari absolutely threw him under the bus after the Fulham match. Let’s see if that affects him today.
6′ Giggs sends it into the box, and Evans gets his head on it, but his shot has no power at all and it’s easily dealt with by the Chelsea defense.
5′ Park makes a nice move to get around Bosingwa and tries to send in a cross. Bosingwa recovers and deflects it out for a corner.
4′ Lampard hits Ronaldo on the shin and completely misses the ball. Webb gives Lampard a yellow. Wow, that was fast. Who had 4 minutes in the pool?
3′ Park and Mikel collide at the center line and Park gets called for the foul.
2′ Long pass from Giggs to Park down the left, but it’s long and not even Park can catch up to it.
1′ Chelsea kick off and here we go! Howard Webb is our ref. Mishit from Cech and United will have a throw deep in Chelsea territory. No matter as United give it away and Chelsea go on the counterattack. Lampard takes a quick shot from outside the box, and it’s well off the mark.
0′ Capello is also in attendance, sitting in the same box as The Special One. We’ll see who gets more camera time. I’m not betting on Capello.
0′ Apparently, The Special One is in attendance, presumably to scout United in advance of Inter’s clash with them in the Champions League. He’s absolutely not in attendance to talk turkey with United’s corporate board about being Sir Alex’s successor. Nor is he here to talk turkey with Chelsea officials to come back to Stamford Bridge.
0′ Big spot for Evans here. He did not play well against Derby (although that could be said for most of the team), and this will be a big test for him. A strong showing could do wonders for his confidence, especially since they’ll be relying on him in the Champions League due to Vidic’s suspension.
0′ Howard Webb has already issued a booking. Against me for violating the Respect Campaign. I guess I haven’t earned the right to criticize the refs with impunity like Sir Alex Ferguson.
0′ I’m very surprised to see Carrick on the bench. I’m not saying that Fletcher doesn’t deserve to start, since he’s been one of their most consistent players all year. However, you have to think that Carrick and Scholes would be a better pairing in midfield than Fletcher and Giggs. Carrick’s long-passing adds a dimension that Giggs lacks.
0′ Howard Webb is our ref today. I’ve done several matches this season where Webb was the ref, including Arsenal/Liverpool and the Manchester Derby. Let’s just say that he was little whistle happy in both of those matches. I hope that isn’t the case today. Let’s hope Howard Webb realizes that all those ticket holders and the millions watching at home aren’t watching because of him.
0′ I’ve always been partial to scheduling big matches between championship contenders later in the year. Nevertheless, I’m pretty excited to see a titanic clash like this in January. Should be a great match! As long as they don’t call it off because of cold weather like they did with a couple of matches yesterday.
0′ Not much needs to be said about this matchup. With Liverpool dropping points yesterday at Stoke, this match takes on added importance. Neither of these teams have done well in matches against their fellow Big Four powers (taking one point each – against each other). Today would be a great time to reverse that trend.
0′ Hello everyone and welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of Manchester United v. Chelsea! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger.
After a close first half, United really came out firing on all cylinders during the second half. They dominated play and deservedly took the three points. Despite missing Ferdinand, the defense completely shut down Chelsea’s offense, as Van der Sar pretty much had the afternoon off. United generated numerous scoring chances, and their midfield dominated their much higher-profile counterparts in blue. United fans have been waiting for a championship caliber performance, and they got one today. Obviously, Ferdinand’s injury is a concern, as is Evra’s, but Evans and Neville really stepped up.
As for Chelsea, there wasn’t much to be proud of. Their marking was so bad and so uncharacteristic for them that you have to think that they must have quit playing, especially on the third goal. The situation with Anelka and Drogba continues to be a distraction, and Scolari seems stuck between playing his preferred formation and going with two up front. Deco continues to start, for some reason, even though he hasn’t played well in months. Mikel is much improved this year, but he’s made some big-time gaffes, and that was on display as his mistake led to United’s first goal. Drogba was largely invisible, as were Ballack, Lampard and J. Cole. Scolari will get a lot of criticism, and deservedly so, but this was a team effort. Chelsea didn’t look like they were even going to score, let alone win, and they’ll have a lot of questions to answer.
Man of the Match:
There were no shortage of candidates for United. Giggs played very well in the center of midfield. Park and Fletcher justified their selection by turning in solid performances in midfield. Vidic was great in the center of defense, as always, but Evans played well (despite some hiccups). Neville was a revelation at right and Evra showed why he’s so valuable on the left. Ronaldo and Rooney were their usual selves, but Berbatov really stood out. He was responsible for two goals and played a role in the other one. He did a good job holding the ball when necessary and controlling the action in midfield. United fans have waited a long time for the so-called “Next Cantona” to come up big in an important fixture. Wait no more…