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UEFA Champions League
April 6, 2011
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
• Attendance: 37915
90' + 5'
So Fergie got the away goal he was after, as Manchester United come away from the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final with a 1-0 lead. Chelsea went close several times though and the game is still, very much, on a knife edge. See you next week at Old Trafford!
90' + 4'
90' + 4'
And that's it at Stamford Bridge! Wayne Rooney's goal, the game's defining moment of class, settled affairs, though Chelsea will feel robbed after being denied what looked a stone wall penalty in the 92nd minute.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Fernando Torres
90' + 3'
Reeling from the penalty-that-wasn't, Torres goes down in the box looking for another one and giving the ref a chance to right his wrongs. To be fair, his effort had desperation written all over it and after a small melee, the referee books him.
90' + 2'
PENALTY?! Not given! Ramires bursts through on goal and Evra is all over him, before clearly chopping down the Brazilian. Clear cut penalty.
Sighs ring round Stamford Bridge as Anelka shapes to belt one from the edge of the box, but instead trickles one in. Time is of the essence here, with just four injury-time minutes remaining.
Malouda does well to send in a cross first time, on the volley, that flies into the area, with no blue shirts seemingly willing to get on the edge of it. Perhaps they never saw it coming. I didn't. At the other end, Cech thwarts Nani, diving at his feet. Then, swingly wildly to the other end, Evra denies Anelka at the far post. I can't catch a breath here.
Ivanovic steps up to the plate, weaving his way to some free space on the edge of the box. He can only manage to send in a tame left footer though, presenting no problem to Van der Sar. Five minutes left here....
They're still keen to surge forward though the Premier League leaders. Countering quickly, Nani forces his way upfield and United proceed to enjoy over 20 passes with Chelsea camped in their own half. That's how you kill a game off.
Chelsea win a free-kick 25 yards out from goal, in perfect Frank Lampard territory. He drills it but Van der Sar had all the time in the world to see it, dive on top of it and launch it upfield.
Yellow Card Edwin van der Sar
Still they attack and United have been reduced to quelling wave after wave of Chelsea endeavour. The visitors bring on Berbatov for Chicharito in an attempt to provide an outlet yet it looks as if a holding-on job is more required. Lampard launches in a free kick, that evades everyone and flies towards the far post. Van der Sar always had it covered though and his effort to dive over is definitely for the cameras. He then receives a booking for time-wasting. Into the last ten minutes...
John Obi Mikel
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
The changes seemed to have worked for Chelsea, providing an extra dimension to their attack. That said, Anelka fluffs his lines, when a more assured touch would have presented him with a sight of goal.
Yellow Card Nemanja Vidic
They're knocking here. Ramires sends one into the box from deep and Torres gets across Vidic but fails to connect. Then, Torres seems destined to notch his first goal, sending an excellent effort with his head into the far post, yet is thrwated by a top class, full-stretch save from Van der Saar.
Malouda is warming up with the big question being who he will replace. Zhirkov does well to stand one up into the penalty area and when the clearance loops out to Essien, he thumps it, drawing speculative oohs from the crowd but the ball flies wide. Double change for Chelsea as they seek to change things up, Anelka and Malouda coming on for Drogba and Zhirkov.
Good stuff from Cech. Nani teases the ball into the box and the keeper gets the slightest of touches to take it off the head of the looming Chicharito and denying a certain goal. The corner? It comes to nothing.
Yellow Card Michael Essien
Content to soak up the pressure, United's goal threat has lowered in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Lampard lumps it into the box, but Drogba doesn't seem to fancy it. They're on the front foot - but need some craft to go with their bluster.
Drogba is proving a right handful down the right hand flank, once again making Evra look like a weedy schoolgirl. His delivery is lacking though and he rolls the ball straight to Vidic, then argues needlessly with the linesman. Typical stuff from the Ivorian. Torres, on the other hand, has been wholly anonymous. A change on the cards for the hosts soon?
The visitors steal a corner after raiding down the right. Once again Giggs gives the ball away after a misunderstanding concerning a short ball. Three times in one game - very unlike him.
Yellow Card Ramires
Bit of a lull here as United frustrate Chelsea's forward advances. They still look dangerous on the quick-turn around themselves, with Chicharito always buzzing around.
Rooney puts it in the back of the net but as Chicharito was offside and flagged so, the travelling fans quickly abandon their jubilation. Chelsea counter and force another corner and Droga shows Torres how to correctly execute a bicycle kick. He flicks it up, connects acrobatically but the ball flies across the six yard box and beyond the far post.
Nani immediately tries one from range, cutting in to send a very tame left footer rolling towards Cech. Chelsea send it up the other end and Drogba wins a free kick by the corner flag after outfoxing Park and Valenica. He takes it himself, rolling it on the edge of the box to Ramires who completely air shots it.
BIG MISS from Ramires! Drogba continues to throw himself around and this time Evra buckles under the pressure, giving the big Ivorian the ball on the right flank. He sends in a beautiful cross and Ramires flies into the box, unmarked and glances a header wide. Should have put his weight behind it - excellent chance. It's all proved too much for Rafael, who is replaced by Nani.
Rafael takes a clattering from Drogba and is brought out of proceedings. Chelsea continue to push, but this time Cole's delivery is woeful and more possession goes begging.
Well, second half due to start here at Stamford Bridge. What a first-half. If the second can live up to it then we're up for a treat. Buckle in.
45' + 2'
Phew, it's exhausting just watching this, as the referee blows for half-time. A pulsating end to the first half with United deservedly in front after a goal that had more than a touch of class about it. Though, as Chelsea proved seconds ago, this tie is very much alive. See you in 15.
45' + 1'
HOW HAS THAT NOT GONE IN!? Right on the brink of half-time, Torres very subtlely flicks a ball onto the post and with the rebound falling straight at the feet of Lampard, the midfielder's effort is dramatically cleared off the line. Both should have done better.
The game hasn't lost any of its bite as it enter the dying stages of the first half. United are pushing for the goal that would probably kill the hosts off but 25 yards out from goal, they run into a brick wall every time. Rooney then tries from one from range, but Cech gathers easily. Bread and butter stuff for the keeper.
Giggs fouls Ivanovic in a dangerous area, 25 yards out to the right-hand side of the box. Perfect opportunity to whip one in and Drogba obliges but to little effect, with Ferdinand clearing the danger. United counter swiftly, Rooney bending on in that evades Chicharito, just yards out, by inches. Let off for Chelsea.
More composed stuff from Chelsea but United are firmly in control of this one. Essien bustles beyond Rooney down the left touchline but his cross doesn't beat the first man, with neither Drogba or Torres anywhere to be seen. Then, the ball is threaded around on the edge of the United box and with Lampard seemingly on the brink of teetering through, the final pass is slightly overhit.
Yellow Card Yuri Zhirkov
Once again from Torres, that chronic lack of incision. The misfiring striker gets in down the right but can't work his way round the impenetrable wall that is Vidic. When will the £50m man get into gear?
Oh dear Torres. That's why you're not scoring. Zhirkov does some decent work down the left, teases the ball into Torres, who tees it up and attempts a bicycle kick, getting it all wrong. Widely jeered is the Spaniard. Better though, from Chelsea, who are enjoying a little more of the ball and even the odd corner or two.
Drogba shows his team's frustration, fouling Vidic rather needlessly with the ball pumped into the United box. The difference between the two teams? Quality on the ball. United didn't have it, but found it. Chelsea, don't look like they've ever had it - giving the ball away cheaply all over the park.
So how will Chelsea respond to that massive goal? Not so well on the face of it, as United continue to push. The game stops for Rooney, who was subject to a cynical late challenge from Ramires before Chelsea desperately try to claw their way back into the game.
Assist Ryan Giggs
Goal Wayne Rooney
GOAL! And what a goal. Who else but Wayne Rooney. This time though, it's not about the man himself, but the delightful team move. A fantastic 60 yard cross field pass from Carrick finds Giggs down the left. The winger's first touch is sublime, takes him past Bosingwa and he feeds it into the onrushing Rooney, who side-foots it in off the post. A joy to behold.
Then down at the other end, Rooney fails to show the clinical touch he emphatically showed at Upton Park last week, and a sniff of a chance goes begging as Chelsea swamp him out on the edge of the box.
And the first clear-cut chance of the game! Drogba finds himself in space on the right hand side of the box. In the fashion we've come to expect from him over the years, he takes one touch, then belts it. Well struck, the ball travels down the centre of Van der Saar's goal and he tips it over. Would have been a scorcher.
It's going to take that spark of inspiration from United as they settle down to enjoy the lions' share of possession without really threatening in behind. Torres draws a foul from Valencia to allow Chelsea to advance but they too fail to create an opening.
More patient build up from United, yet Chelsea set up two banks of four that the visitors are struggling to break down. Evra wins a corner, with the poor delivery rebounding out to Park. He slams the ball back in and it takes a nick, going out for another corner. Giggs' poor delivery is even worse this time, his attempted ball to absolutely nobody on the edge of the area is then carried out with ease by Chelsea.
Although that said, Ferdinand must have rattled the Ivorian's cage. Winning a header against, then outmuscling, the towering centre forward in quick succession.Very bitty game so far, lots of little fouls as both teams feel each other out in the opening exchanges.
Hernandez, as always, waiting on the shoulder almost profits on a Giggs flicked header but after a decent amount of build up, the move lacks any real potency.. They'll have to be more inventive than that. Drogba goes down, naturally theatrically, after receiving a very lightweight Ferdinand arm in the face. I'm sure he will be fine.
Chelsea fancy it tonight. A decent flurry of activity down the right flank sees Bosingwa well advanced and threatening to deliver a problem. He doesn't though and United quell any immediate danger. The home side have started the strongest.
And Torres gets his first shot of the evening. Comfy save for Van der Sar, but the old Torres would have rounded Carrick and bore down on the keeper. At least it's an effort though.
Calmed down a little bit, thankfully. Don't think my keyboard would be up for taking 90 minutes of that. Rooney, roundly booed everytime the ball goes near him takes a nasty looking collection of studs in the top of the boot after a scrape with Essien but United settle down to enjoy a length spell of possession.
A fluid opening to proceedings at STamford Bridge, with both teams keen to get on the front foot. Ramires swings in a dangerous cross from the right that just evades the stooping Torres, while at the other end Giggs swings one in that is collected by Cech. Great start.
And out they step at Stamford Bridge for what is a big, big night here for both sides' 2010/11 aspirations. Manchester United still in the chase for the treble, while Chelsea are more or less down and out - this is make or break for them. Crunch.
Not to be outdone, Manchester United field a similarly attack minded side. Rooney and Hernandez get another chance to prove their burgeoning relationship, with serial important-goal scorer Park drafted in for good measure. Ferdinand recovers from injury doubts to pair up with Vidic in the middle, providing big assurance to fans who have seen a catalogue of differing back four lines up this term.
So after a week of intense media speculation, Ancelotti decides to start with both Drogba AND Torres. Long touted to be incompatible, the duo are charged with spear-heading a Chelsea attack that has been uninspiring at best this season. Otherwise, the improving Ramires keeps his place, as does Michael Essien, who has begun to get into his indomitable stride after a long, long time sidelined.
Man United 4-4-2: Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park; Rooney, Hernandez. Subs: Kuszczak, Berbatov, Smalling, Nani, Scholes, Evans, Gibson
Chelsea 4-4-2: Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Zhirkov; Drogba, Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Benayoun, Mikel, Malouda, Ferreira, Kalou, Anelka
Of course, what with this being a two legged affair, we won’t find out this evening but with Ferguson targeting away goals and Chelsea undefeated by the Red Devils in 10 games at the Bridge, fear not a wet blanket this evening. With no delay, I present to you the teams:
And what an eagerly anticipated we have on our hands tonight. With Tottenham’s savaging at the hands of Real Madrid last night at least we can be firmly assured of the presence of one English team in the semi’s, though will it be Sir Alex Ferguson’s title contenders, or Carlo Ancelotti’s comparative flops?
Evening all and welcome to the goal.com live coverage of the cataclysmic Champions League clash between Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United.
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