Custom Search

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Giggs toasts timely goals

Ryan Giggs saluted his side's impeccable timing after United beat Chelsea with goals at the end of each half.

The Reds captain admitted the dismissal of John Obi Mikel could have worked against United - especially if the Blues had reached the break on level terms.

"When you play against ten men, they all get behind the ball," said Giggs.

"It can be difficult but we scored at the right time."

It was Giggs who delivered the right-wing cross for Carlos Tevez to nod home his first goal for the club as half-time beckoned.

"You get the ball into the area and hope the centre-forwards get in there," said Giggs.

"Carlos had made a great run – you’ll score loads of goals running across the near post and he managed to do that. I was really pleased to see it go in."

United's goal hero at the other end of the game was the substitute Louis Saha, who won and then converted a penalty to kill off any faint hopes Chelsea might have had of earning an ill-deserved equaliser.

“I think one-nil’s always a dangerous scoreline, even if you’re playing against ten men," reflected Ryan.

"Chelsea have got quality players that can score goals so it was really pleasing to see the second goal go in."

It was a day of firsts for United as Saha and Tevez both opened their goalscoring accounts for the season, to give the Reds their first win by more than one goal. Both reflect the strength in attacking depth that the Reds are beginning to enjoy.

“We’re getting players back now so we've got lots of options," added Ryan.

"Nani and Louis were on the bench today so we’ve got players who can come on and make an impact as well."


Sir Alex: We deserved win

Sir Alex Ferguson believes the "fortunate" moments when Chelsea had a man sent off and United were awarded a penalty merely made up for other incidents missed by referee Mike Dean.

Chelsea's John Obi Mikel was dismissed after 32 minutes for lifting both feet off the ground in a challenge on Patrice Evra, while Louis Saha was pulled back in the box in the 89th minute before completing United's 2-0 win from the penalty spot.

“I’ve seen the sending off incident and it was maybe a bit harsh, but there was intent there," said Sir Alex on Sky Sports.

"It could have hurt the boy (Evra) but a lot of referees would have let it go. Then, when you see Joe Cole’s tackle in the second half on Cristiano Ronaldo, that should have been a straight red card. It was right down the Achilles which is happening repeatedly to Cristiano. He got a yellow card, but it should have been red. I think the referee was perhaps balancing it out.

"The foul on Louis Saha for our penalty was a bit harsh, but I think that cancels out the one we should have got in the first half. We should have had a penalty kick (for Joe Cole’s foul on Evra) in the first half, I think the cameras clearly show that. In tight games like that, the referee has to make big decisions quickly and he can get it wrong."

Right or wrong, the refereeing decisions did not taint the worthiness of United's victory for Sir Alex, who said: “I think we were the better team.

"Our football in the early parts of the match was outstanding - in the first half hour we played as well as we have all season in terms of the penetration of our play, the movement and our passing.

“We could have been two or three up early on. Petr Cech made a great save from Wayne Rooney right at the start and we were dominant at that point.

“I think the real turning point was the goal just before half time. It was a real blow to Chelsea. At that point we had complete control of the match.

“In a way we got some of our confidence back today," added Sir Alex.

"There was style and tempo to our play. I was delighted with that. Tevez and Rooney are getting more games and Saha is coming back. We are looking more like ourselves.” Read more...

Manchester United Vs. Chelsea Report

Carlos Tevez struck his first goal for the club in injury time at the end of the first half before Louis Saha capped off a dominant Reds display with a late penalty in a match that saw Chelsea reduced to ten man after John Obi Mikel’s sending off.

In truth, United were always in control and never looked ending this match with anything other than three points.

The goings-on at Chelsea earlier this week took centre stage in build-up to the game. However, during his Friday press conference, Sir Alex was insistent that Jose Mourinho’s departure from Stamford Bridge would not overshadow the greatest need - three points – in what he said would be an important, if perhaps not decisive, meeting in the race for the title.

And that mindset was clear from the start. United, playing 4-4-2 with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez paired up front for the first time. And the former quickly stamped his mark on the game. Rooney latched onto a ball Ryan Giggs won in midfield, and carrying the ball forward he took on his marker Tal Ben-Haim and curled shot towards the far top corner. Petr Cech had to be at his best from the off, finger-tipping his save from the jaws of the upright.

The new man, Avram Grant, wasn’t aiming for a rapid departure from the brand of football Mourinho preached, sticking to the Portuguese coach’s 4-5-1 template, with width and expansive, attacking play – high on Roman Abramovich’s wish-list – clearly not yet applied. The missing Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard further blunted Chelsea’s attacking options.

Just short of the 20-minute mark, Evra and the entire Stretford were up in arms as Joe Cole appeared to catch the Reds left-back just inside the area. Referee Mike Dean ushered away the protests.

United’s forward triumvirate of Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo began increasingly to cause Chelsea significant problems. Paul Scholes picked out their forward runs with relative ease. All three attackers had shots that troubled Cech, and Sir Alex’s side were edging closer to finding the breakthrough.

All the goalscoring opportunities were United’s. Rooney controlled a poor Ashley Cole clearance and crossed to the far post, where Giggs narrowly side-footed over. More than the chances, red shirts were first to every ball, strong in defence, organised in midfield, eager to get on and play from free-kicks and positive in everything they did going forward.

United were to be given a further boost in the 32nd minute when John Obi Mikel went into a challenge on Patrice Evra and lifted both feet off the ground. Fortunately he didn’t follow through, otherwise the Frenchman could have seriously been injured. Nontheless, the referee considered it dangerous play and sent the young Nigerian from the field.

Advantage United, perhaps. But it still needed the goal the home side’s play deserved. It almost arrived five minutes from time when Nemanja Vidic, the match-winner against Everton, rose above Chelsea’s defence to test Cech again.

The breakthrough finally did arrive in injury time at the end of the first half. Giggs curled in an inviting cross to the front post and Tevez darted into space, heading past Cech. It was nothing more than United deserved, and what better time for the Argentinian to score his first goal for the club?

The second half brought, as expected with Chelsea down to ten men, long periods of possession for the Reds. And with United rock solid in defence, wave after wave of attack came with the rain that raked across Old Trafford.

Chelsea never really looked like equalling United in any department all afternoon. The sending off undoubtedly didn’t help their cause, but from the very start the Reds showed they wanted this victory more than Chelsea.

And the afternoon was capped off nicely when substitute Louis Saha, on for the impressive and tireless Tevez, was pulled back in the area by Ben-Haim and the referee pointed to the spot. The Frenchman, having earned the penalty, stepped up to take it, despite the inevitable offer from Ronaldo to take over duties if he should be required. Saha welcomed his second goal of the season with a strike down the middle of the goal.

Saha had the chance to add a second in injury time. The forward raced away from Ben-Haim and controlled Carrick’s raking ball forward perfectly before firing his shot narrowly over.

The victory breaks the trend of 1-0 wins – United were headed for a fifth on the trot before Saha’s penalty – and moves the Reds to second in the table, two points behind Arsenal. Chelsea must surely now be asking questions of their ability to reclaim the title. For United, the defence of it gathers momentum.

Team Line-ups

Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs (c); Tevez (Saha, 79), Rooney.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, O’Shea, Nani, Pique.

Chelsea: Cech; Ferreira, Ben-Haim, Terry(c), A.Cole; J.Cole (Pizarro, 76), Mikel (sent off 32), Makelele, Essien, Malouda (Wright-Phillips, 69); Shevchenko (Kalou, 59).
Subs not used: Cudicini, Alex.

Watch Highlight: