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1 March 2011
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 41825
David Luiz 54'
F. Lampard 79'
W. Rooney 30'
90' + 4'
FULL TIME! All over at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea come from a goal down to secure a 2-1 win and hand Manchester United only their second league defeat of the season! Bad night for United, good night for Chelsea and for Arsenal of course! That's all from me but stay with Goal.com for our match report, rating and reaction.
90' + 3'
Yellow/Red Nemanja Vidic
90' + 3'
VIDIC IS SENT OFF! The Serbian picks up his second booking after a foul on Ramires. United's evening going from bad to worse....
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Ryan Giggs
90' + 2'
The ball is at the wrong end of the pitch for United. Vidic is penalised for a foul on Drogba, and Chelsea can play keep-ball by the corner flag, which they do until Giggs fouls Drogba and is booked.
Now Fabio tries to find Fletcher making a run into the box but he's overhit his pass and it rums harmlessly out for a goal kick. Time running our for the visitors as we head into FOUR minutes of stoppage time.
Poor effort from Fletcher. He has a shooting chance from the edge of the box but gets right under it and spoons it into the crowd.
Good move by United with Giggs finding Rooney who sends a cute ball into Fabio but the substitute can't quite get the ball out from under his feet and Cech is out quickly to block.
The visitors win a couple of corners but causes few worries with either. Cech out commandingly to claim the second and regain possession for the Blues.
SO CLOSE TO 3-1 CHELSEA! A Blues corner is headed by Vidic only to Zhirkov who absolutely smashes a ball goalwards, it deflects off Vidic and fliew narrowly wide. That was so close!
Back to Wayne Veysey at Stamford Bridge: "The flags are out in force here. After David Luiz got away with murder at one end, Zhirkov persuaded Mark Clattenburg into awarding a penalty. Lampard showed there's life in the old guard still by banging home the spot-kick with complete conviction."
Fabio Da Silva
Final change for the Red Devils, Fabio comes on to replace Evra.
United try to respond immediately but Nani's ball to Rooney is too easy for Luiz who intercepts. The visitors have a little over 10 minutes to get back into this game.
Assist Yuri Zhirkov
Penalty Goal Frank Lampard
GOAL! Lampard hammers it straight down the middle, Van der Sar dives to his right and CHELSEA LEAD 2-1!!
PENALTY CHELSEA! Substitute Zhirkov goes down under pressure from Smalling and the referee points straight to the spot!
Rooney beats Luiz, who then takes the striker down off the ball. Sir Alex is on his feet instantly, the defender is on a yellow card remember. However, the referee serenely waves play on and on we go.
United manage to get Rooney into the box. He has Luiz for a shadow, but manages to shrug him off and get his shot away. Unfortunately for the visitors it's straight at Cech.
Yellow Card Michael Essien
Yet another free-kick for Chelsea in shooting range and Drogba looks like he fancies this one. He steps up, and...smashes it well wide.
Torres manages to find Drogba who tries his luck from range but it's deflected out for a corner and the Ivorian urges the crowd to give his team more support.
Here comes the change and it will be a double substitution for the visitors: on come Giggs and Berbatov, off go Scholes and Hernandez.
Drogba sends Torres almost clear through on goal, the home fans get to their feet but...he's offside. Meanwhile, activity on the United bench where Berbatov is getting stripped and looks imminent.
Let's pop back to our man Wayne Veysey at the Bridge: "A great atmosphere now at the Bridge with a match to fit the occasion. Both sides are going all out for the win, mistakes are being made, legitimate and illegitimate challenges are flying in and there are plenty of chances at both ends. Anelka has paid the price for an anonymous game and Drogba is on to bully the impeccable Smalling."
The visitors send Rooney racing down the left, he heads into the box, it as a tight angle and I'm not sure if it's a cross or a shot but either way it's wide and fails to find a team-mate.
Nice move from United, sets Rooney free and he finishes neatly past Cech, GOAL! But, wait a minute, calm, down, what's that? I see an offside flag? Oh yes, it's not going to count, that's a goal ruled out for both teams now! Good call too, Rooney just a fraction off.
Fletcher feels he is blocked off, appeals to the referee for a foul, but meanwhile Carrick plays on, shapes to shoot but it's blocked! This game is very delicately poised at the moment.
Yellow Card David Luiz
And now a booking for Luiz! He catches Rooney late and leaves the referee little option but to reach for his pocket. Meanwhile, Anelka is going off and Drogba is coming on.
Anelka has a pop from range, but it takes a big deflection which makes it easy for Van der Sar. Still, it's all Chelsea at the moment that goal has given them a real boost.
Evra is robbed by David Luiz, he really is everywhere at the moment, and Chelsea can come forward. Scholes eventually regains possession in the box, but again he is hounded by the irrepressible Luiz before eventually winning the goal kick.
Rooney tries to find Hernandez but he's beaten to it by a committed Luiz. The new boy having an impact at both ends of the field in this game.
Assist Branislav Ivanovic
Goal David Luiz
GOAL! Chelsea are level and it's their new signing! No not that one! It's David Luiz! The cross comes in from Essien, Ivanovic gets a head on it and it falls kindly to Luiz at the far post to smash home!
Activity down on the Chelsea bench, and understandably so, Drogba is busy warming up and if the scoreline stays the same you would expect the Ivorian will be arriving sooner rather than later.
Nani manages to find Rooney, despite the close attentions of Ivanovic. He has time and space, and tries to curl it into the top corner, but he can't quite replicate his earlier accuracy and it's narrowly wide.
Another free-kick to Chelsea, again Lampard takes it but again it's far too easy for Van der Sar who makes a routine save.
Rooney tries to free Hernandez but he makes a real mess of the pass and it rolls harmlessly through to Cech. The England striker is furious with himself, as well he might be.
Better from Chelsea. They manage to get Cole high up on the pitch and he sends in a first time cross but Van der Sar is alert as ever and comes out and claims first at his near post.
Early chance for Rooney! He begins the move, finds Fletcher, who knocks it back to Carrick. The former Spurs man sends in a high cross but it's just over Rooney's head and Cech claims gratefully.
Here we go again! Chelsea kick off and we are back underway at Stamford Bridge.
45' + 3'
Over to Wayne Veysey for his half-time thoughts: It's half time and United's players are given a warm send-off by the travelling fans. They have been good value for their 1-0 lead with an incisive display that has been a far cry from some of their cagey displays in the marquee fixtures this season. Malouda and Ivanovic wasted good chances for Chelsea but the hosts have been too narrow and they are struggling to get the hang of their 4-4-2 formation. On the evidence so far, Ferguson's faith in Hernandez has been repaid more than Ancelotti's in Torres."
45' + 2'
HALF TIME! The visitors lead at the break courtesy of Rooney's goal but Chelsea have come close though, Ivanovic somehow denied by Van der Sar and an early goal ruled out by the referee. Join me after the break for all the second half action.
45' + 1'
Cole and Lampard stand over the free-kick but it's the full-back who decides to take it. He clears the wall...and the crossbar and Van der Sar watches it all the way.
Yellow Card Nemanja Vidic
The Blues are finishing the half strongly and win another free-kick again on the edge of the box after Vidic hacks down Essien. The United skipper picks up a yellow card for his troubles.
Chelsea continue to press with Lampard finding Malodua with a good ball but he wastes the cross which is greeted by howls of derision from the home fans. The Stamford Bridge faithful starting to sound a little frustrated.
HOW DID CHELSEA NOT SCORE! Lampard fires in the free-kick, Van der Sar parries but only as far as Ivanovic who looks set to bundle it home but somehow he is denied yet again by the 40-year-old 'keeper. Fantastic goalkeeping!
Chelsea seeing plenty of the ball at the moment but not really causing the United defence many problems. Yet they may have a chance now, Evra fouls Torres on the edge of the box and this is a free-kick in a very tasty position for the Blues.
Here's a rather interesting stat for you. According to Opta Rooney's goal was his first from outside the box in the Premier League since February 2008 against Newcastle.
Malouda fires in dangerous ball from the left that momentarily causes panic in the United box. They get it clear but Chelsea could do with getting the ball to Malouda more often, he has looked their most likely source of inspiration so far tonight.
Ivanovic and Nani indulge in a spot of handbags near the corner flag after a little tangle. The referee calls the pair of them over and has a word but opts to keep his cards in his pocket.
Torres takes on Vidic, trying to win a corner, but then opts to send in a cross which loops high over the box and Fletcher can hack clear. However, Chelsea regain possession and give it back to Torres who has a pop from range but it's well wide.
Scholes dinks a ball over to Rooney who takes a great first touch but then the ball runs away from him a little and Luiz can get a foot it. That goal came from a period of sustained pressure from the visitors and they are looking full of confidence now.
Goal Wayne Rooney
GOAL! Manchester United open the scoring and it's Wayne Rooney! Nani slips a little ball to him, he turns and smashes it from fully 25 yards and it whistles past a diving Cech and nestles into the bottom corner! Great strike!
More good stuff from Luiz. Rooney wins possession, feeds Fletcher out wide on the right. He races forward plays a low cross in, with Rooney and Hernandez lurking, but again the new boy is there to make the block.
David Luiz again comes off the better in an exchange with Rooney, this time on the edge of the Chelsea box. The £22 million man looking the part in these early stages.
Chelsea win a couple of corners on the right which Lampard whips in but again United defend well, first Smalling and then Nani, of all people, heading clear.
Rooney's involved again, first he is knocked off the ball by David Luiz, but he's up quickly to shoulder barge Ramires to the ground right in front of the referee. The Stamford Bridge faithful don't like it but the referee takes no action.
Rooney makes a mess of a header which brings jeers from the home fans. It's a good chance too, Nani crosses from the left and Rooney gets it all wrong, the ball hitting his shoulder and flying well wide.
Nani fires in a cross-field pass to Fletcher but the Scot can't quite get it under control on the touchline and it goes for a throw much to the delight of the home fans.
Let's check in with Wayne Veysey at Stamford Bridge: "An excellent start at Stamford Bridge with both teams fielding two strikers and showing real attacking intent. The players have also been flying into the challenges, with Ramires yellow-carded for a dangerous lunge on Carrick. It's spicy off the pitch, too. Naturally, Ashley Cole is being urged to 'shoot' every time he touches the ball while Chelsea are reminding the visitors who the current champions are."
Good play by United, Evra plays a one-two with Hernandez to get free inside the box and he slides a lovely low cross which Rooney is inches away from converting at the far post but he can't quite get on the end of it.
Yellow Card Ramires
First booking of the night and it goes to Ramires for a late lunge on Carrick. The foul has Sir Alex Ferguson jumping onto his feet in protest and the Chelsea man can have few complaints about that one.
Chance for Essien! Malouda does well to set him up but his toe-poked effort is eventually deflected out for a corner. Malouda takes the kick but Terry can only head over the bar.
A good tackle by Fletcher robs Nicolas Anelka just as a patient Chelsea move was looking to build up a head of steam on the edge of the box. A very decent opening 10 minutes at Stamford Bridge from both sides.
Ashley Cole leaves Michael Carrick in a heap with a lateish challenge, the midfielder gets up very gingerly but looks like he will be OK to continue.
Good stuff from Chelsea who pepper the United box with crosses. First Torres, who combines well with Anelka, and then Ivanovic but both times the visitors manage to head clear.
GREAT CHANCE CHELSEA! A swift break sees the Blues create havoc down the right. The ball comes in and finds Malouda in acres of space, he shoots low but it's straight at Van der Sar! What a chance to open the scoring for the Frenchman!
Incidentally it's worth mentioning that this is the first time since March 2008 that Manchester United have named an unchanged line-up (thanks Opta for that stat). It's also worth noting that Mikel was injured in the warm-up for Chelsea and has been replaced on the bench by Ferreira.
Early corner for the Blues and it's a GOAL! However, breathe easy United fans the referee had already blown and it's not going to count. Indeed a quick throw out by Van der Sar sees Nani racing down the other end and sending in a low cross which a diving Cech has to grasp! End-to-end stuff!
And we're off! Rooney and Hernandez kick-off for the visitors and we are underway at Stamford Bridge.
Goal.com's Wayne Veysey is at Stamford Bridge tonight to watch the game for us and let's take a check on his pre-match thoughts: "Good evening from a dry but freezing Stamford Bridge, where the big news is that Didier Drogba and Dimitar Berbatov are out in the cold again. Sir Alex Ferguson has stuck with Javier Hernandez up front and it will be interesting to see if Wayne Rooney plays alongside him or is stuck out on the left flank. Given that neither Fletcher, Carrick or Scholes are natural wide players and Ferguson tends to play a lone striker formation in the marquee fixtures, that would be the most likely tactic. Interestingly, and a sign that Ferguson is every bit as much of a tinkerman as Rafa Benitez and Claudio Ranieri, it is the first time in 165 games that Man United are unchanged".
Man Utd: Van der Sar; O'Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Nani; Hernandez, Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Berbatov, Giggs, Fabio Da Silva, Rafael Da Silva, Gibson.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole; Essien, Lampard, Ramires; Anelka, Torres, Malouda. Subs: Turnbull, Drogba, Mikel, Bosingwa, Zhirkov, Kalou, McEachran.
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com as we bring you live coverage of tonight's clash between Chelsea and Manchester United. The visitors will be hoping to stretch their lead at the top of the table tonight to seven points but to do so they will need to beat the reigning champions. Can they do it or will the Blues prevail and give this title race another twist? Find out here as all the action is on its way!
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