Custom Search

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Schalke Vs. Manchester United Match Report Result

Make no mistake, this was as accomplished a Champions League semi-final performance you could wish to see as United had Schalke chasing shadows in a comprehensive 2-0 victory.

There's still a second leg to come before the manager and anybody else will be thinking of planning for Wembley but, in truth, only Manuel Neuer's brilliance saved his side from an embarrassing scoreline.Neuer defied United virtually single-handedly before two quickfire goals - by Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney - ensured justice was done. Rooney was the provider for Giggs' opener and then found the net himself after cunning play by strike partner Javier Hernandez.

Sir Alex Ferguson opted for a 4-4-2 formation with in-form Hernandez proving impossible to leave out. Fabio started at right-back with Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Giggs and Ji-sung Park forming the midfield quartet.

In a breathless opening period, both sides carved out chances with Edwin van der Sar worked by Alexander Baumjohann and Edu while Neuer showed his class at the other end. Rooney drifted inside to force a diving stop out of the Schalke skipper, who then beat out a Park drive. Some fine work by Fabio and Valencia led to Hernandez stretching to test Neuer again. Hernandez was then in a one-on-one with the keeper in the 14th minute when Park's astute through ball found him just onside but the Mexican couldn't squeeze his finish under Germany's number one.

Hernandez remained the man likeliest to open the scoring as he rippled the side-netting with a left-footed effort and then made the wrong decision in trying to return a pass to Rooney rather than going for goal himself. Chicharito seemed to be finding space easily and, when he was beautifully picked out by Valencia, it was a surprise his snap-shot flashed across goal rather than on target from an angle.

Giggs almost broke the deadlock when getting his head to Nemanja Vidic's cross, only for the outstanding Neuer to scoop the ball away with his right hand.

Christoph Metzelder took a booking for the team with a cynical foul on Rooney to stop the England international releasing Hernandez again as the one-way traffic on the Schalke goal continued. There was another major scare for the hosts when Hernandez nipped in to again force a fine stop out of Neuer and Park's effort on the rebound was blocked by Atsuto Uchida.

Moments later, Fabio fired over the top with his left foot from Park's downward header as United tried to take a richly-deserved lead. Instead, Neuer blocked crucially again to thwart Giggs in yet another one-on-one situation by standing tall to frustrate the Welshman with his seventh save of the half as the teams went in all-square at the break.

It took one minute and 13 seconds of the second half to test Neuer again as Carrick headed a Giggs free-kick goalwards before Giggs' dreadful right-footed finish ruined the calm dummy that sat two defenders on the deck.

Neuer was finally beaten with 51 minutes on the clock but, frustratingly, Hernandez was marginally offside when lashing home a superb finish. The Miners mustered an attempt of their own when Juan Manuel Jurado sliced a volley off target following Jefferson Farfan's lightning run down the right and Edu's powerful shot forced a save out of van der Sar.

But the Reds were merely biding their time before conjuring up a way of beating Neuer. Patrice Evra fed Rooney and the striker's brilliant disguised pass allowed Giggs to race through unchallenged to slip home an assured left-footed finish.

Scenting blood, United poured forward and, after Giggs volleyed a well-placed Valencia cross wide, it was 2-0 within a couple of minutes. Valencia touched the ball towards Hernandez and the Mexican helped it on intelligently to Rooney, who gleefully swept past the exposed Neuer.

Sir Alex took the opportunity to give Hernandez and Park a breather ahead of the weekend clash with Arsenal as Paul Scholes and Anderson came on with 17 minutes left.

Schalke tried in vain to reduce the deficit with Farfan sending a free-kick wide and substitute Sergio Escudero's excellent attempt forcing van der Sar into evasive action. The hosts, who almost fell further behind late on when Evra shot just wide after linking up with substitute Nani, were simply no match for the Reds on the night. Schalke require a Miner miracle in the second leg at Old Trafford next Wednesday.

Schalke Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clips

Schalke [0 - 2] Manchester United
67' [0 - 1] R. Giggs
69' [0 - 2] W. Rooney


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Manchester United Vs. Everton Match Result Report

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored perhaps the most important goal of his phenomenal debut season for United, nodding a late winner as Everton were beaten amid dramatic scenes at Old Trafford.
David Moyes' side had turned in a magnificently dogged display to frustrate the Reds for long periods, before Chicharito popped up with six minutes remaining to nod home, perhaps symbolically, his 19th goal of the season and move United three points closer to a 19th domestic crown.

The Mexican's strike prompted a mass outpouring of relief from the home support after a largely frustrating afternoon. Fronted by impressively well-drilled visitors, the Reds squandered a series of first half openings and found Tim Howard in solid form, while Michael Owen also struck the outside of the visitors' post late on.

The Reds might have even suffered worse, had Edwin van der Sar not produced a wonderful fingertip save to deny Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell midway through the second period.

With one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final, first leg trip to Schalke, Sir Alex made the most of the squad at his disposal, resting Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling and naming Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick on the bench. Dimitar Berbatov missed out with a persistent groin injury.

Rio Ferdinand partnered Jonny Evans for only the second time this season, Fabio replaced Evra, Darron Gibson stepped in for Carrick and Giggs’ absence was covered by the returning Antonio Valencia.

Everton, meanwhile, came into the game as one of the Premier League’s form teams, with 14 points from the last 18 available, despite a raft of injuries which again reduced decimated their ranks. Tim Cahill did provide a timely boost for David Moyes, however, as he was deemed fit enough for a spot on the visitors’ bench.

The Toffees’ form had brought them into contention for European qualification berths. Nevertheless, United’s need was greater; a state of play reflected in the early patterns within the game. How the Reds reached the interval without scoring was flummoxing – not that former United stopper Howard was inundated with questions to answer; more that the hosts repeatedly failed to make the most of presentable positions.

The movement of Chicharito and the positive possession and passing of Anderson presented problems aplenty for the visitors. Wayne Rooney dictated United’s tempo, dropping into the hole behind the Mexican marksman with promising regularity. It was he who had the game’s first effort, a 25-yard effort which deflected wide from Nani’s disguised free-kick.

Everton’s remit mainly concerned defending in the opening period, but their sporadic threat on the break invariably involved Leon Osman, operating in a similar position to Rooney, and he took advantage of space in the midfield area to poke a half-hit effort straight at Edwin van der Sar. The Dutchman wouldn’t make another save all half.

Instead, United repeatedly sprung the hosts’ high line. Nani dwelled and shot straight at Howard after a three-on-three break, then Chicharito’s cross was deflected into the American’s arms after another swift counter led by Fabio. Chicharito soon had Howard earning his pay – drawing a smart stop from the American with a near post effort and then forcing him to beat another powerful effort behind after fine approach play from Rooney.

For all the trouble being caused by the little Mexican, he inadvertently helped the visitors escape the clearest opening of the half. Valencia outmuscled Leighton Baines and pulled back for Nani. Having slipped, Chicharito then sat helpless as he blocked the Portuguese winger's effort wide with his outstretched heel.

There was still time for one more United break to fizzle out into nothingness in the first period. Rooney sprung Everton’s line, required two touches to bring the ball into position and defenders had swarmed around Chicharito by the time he released the cross. Somehow, once again, Moyes’ side survived.

Mindful of the need to offer more attacking input, the Everton manager introduced Cahill and Victor Anichebe at the start of the second half as replacements for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Jermaine Beckford, who had both been largely anonymous.

The move initially stymied United’s flow. Sir Alex Ferguson joined assistant Mike Phelan on the touchline to evaluate the impact the changes would have. It took eight minutes for the Reds to forge another opening, before again Phil Jagielka slammed the door in the hosts’ faces, steaming in to clear Chicharito’s centre before Rooney could pounce.

Everton were by far more competitive as a result of their changes, however, and the pace of Anichebe took him away from Ferdinand and into the United area. The youngster tumbled under pressure from the veteran defender, but referee Peter Walton opted against an award. Everton’s players, management and fans were irate, but replays suggested that Anichebe had willingly succumbed to gravity.

The non-award only served to turn up the heat on an encounter which was increasingly simmering. Anderson and Cahill both entered the book for late challenges in quick succession, before Sir Alex opted to change his own approach by throwing on Michael Owen for Nani. Patrice Evra also entered the fray at the expense of John O'Shea, who was seemingly carrying an injury.

United's frustration was growing, but the mood inside Old Trafford briefly became one of overwhelming relief when, with 23 minutes remaining, Jack Rodwell's deflected 25-yard shot was magnificently turned past the post by van der Sar.

That chance prompted a wave of United pressure, with both sides decamped to the visitors' half. Owen struck the outside of Howard's post as he redirected Fabio's centre, before Rooney came close with a curling free-kick which was tipped over.

Howard then produced his finest save; tipping over Chicharito's close-range header after Valencia's initial effort had been heroically blocked. Still United kept knocking on the door, and finally it opened with seven minutes remaining.

Distin was caught in possession by Valencia, who then received the ball back from Anderson. The Ecuadorian's cross was deflected off Distin, and fell beautifully for Chicharito to nod home from deep inside the six-yard box at the far post.

Cue widespread pandemonium inside Old Trafford - although jitters soon crept back in when referee Walton gave the signal for five added minutes. The excellent Jagielka blazed wildly over and van der Sar clutched a Cahill header, before the final whistle sparked further scenes of choral revelling among the home support.

Another 90 minutes closer to the end of an epic season, and three points closer to number 19. The onus is now on Arsenal and Chelsea to keep pace before facing the league leaders in the coming weeks.

Manchester United Vs. Everton Highlights Video Clip

Manchester Untied [1 - 0] Everton
84' [1 - 0] J. Hernandez

szólj hozzá: M1-0E

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Manchester City Vs. Manchester United Match Report Result

One down, two to go.

After Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, the FA Cup is out of reach. But Manchester United remain in pole position to win a record 19th league title and face German side Schalke over two legs for a place in the European Cup final. Life could be worse.Of course, on Saturday at Wembley that was scant consolation for the 40-odd-thousand Reds who travelled to London to watch only the second ever Manchester derby to be played outside of the city. Unfortunately, it went the same way as the first. On that occasion, back in 1926, City won an FA Cup final 3-0 at Bramall Lane. This time there was only one goal in it but the result was just as devastating.

After an evenly contested first period, a defensive lapse at the beginning of the second was pounced on and United punished dearly. The task was then made even more difficult when Paul Scholes was sent off on 72 minutes for a studs-up challenge on Pablo Zabaleta that left the Argentinian with two nasty cuts on his right thigh.

When the Reds' FA Cup dream came to an end at the semi-final stage in 2009 at least there the “weakened team” argument to play. On Saturday there were no such excuses. Despite Tuesday's looming trip to St James' Park, United fielded a full-strength side at Wembley. This was a derby, after all. And, for that matter, an FA Cup semi-final.

Sir Alex named his strongest available back five. There was also room in the starting XI for three traditional wingers, although Ji-sung Park played tucked in centrally alongside Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes, with Nani and Antonio Valencia on the flanks.

Up front, Dimitar Berbatov got the nod ahead of Javier Hernandez – Wayne Rooney, remember, was serving the second of a two-game ban – and the Bulgarian was left to rue two spurned chances in the space of 30 seconds with the game just 15 minutes old.

Neat one-touch football from Carrick, Scholes and Park on the edge of City's penalty area released Berbatov, but the striker saw his shot saved superbly by the onrushing Joe Hart. Then, from the resulting quickly-taken throw-in, Nani advanced into the penalty area, passed low across the six-yard box and Berbatov, no more than three yards out and with an open goal at his mercy, stretched to meet the ball but sliced his effort over the bar.

City, meanwhile, struggled to assert themselves early on and didn't seriously threaten Edwin van der Sar's goal until the 31 st minute. Even then, Gareth Barry's shot missed its mark, although Blues fans at the opposite end of the stadium were convinced it had found the net.

Perhaps Manchester City's unfamiliarity with life on the big stage played its part in their sluggish start. After all, this was their first visit to the new Wembley. But while United dominated the opening half-hour, the game remained goalless. To their credit, City had defended well and even enjoyed their own spell of sustained pressure before the interval.

Balotelli forced van der Sar into a smart save when he unleashed a swerving effort from 35 yards before Joleon Lescott volleyed over when he was left unattended at the back post. Yaya Toure then strode forward and earned City a corner, which was taken quickly and worked to Nigel de Jong, whose curling shot from 20 yards breezed just past van der Sar's left-hand upright. The half-time whistle almost came as a relief.

The break did little to curb City's momentum and the Blues took the lead seven minutes after the restart following sloppy United defending. First, van der Sar fluffed a clearance, which fell to Silva 35 yards from goal. O'Shea won back possession well and fed the ball square to Carrick, who aimed to shift the ball again to Scholes. But Toure read his intentions, intercepted the pass and strode confidently into the area. His pace took him past Vidic before he kept his cool to roll his shot through van der Sar's legs and into the net. Advantage City.

Sir Alex's men barely had a kick for the next 10 minutes as the Blues, eyeing a first FA Cup final since 1981, peppered van der Sar's goal in search of a second. It didn't come, though, and United then inched back into the game when Hart pushed Nani's deflected free-kick onto the bar and Javier Hernandez entered the fray.

Scholes' dismissal then effectively ended the game, although there was still time for Carrick to shoot on target, Hernandez to have an effort blocked and Park to head tamely at Hart. But this wasn't United's day. Even the five minutes of injury time failed to yield a presentable chance.

So, City move on to the FA Cup final after a disappointing day out in the capital. Still, at least there are other opportunites for silverware.

Manchester City Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Manchester City [1 - 0] Manchester United
52' [1 - 0] Y. Touré


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Manchester United Vs. Chelsea Match Report Result

Wembley is within reach.

Only FC Schalke or Internazionale stand in Manchester United's way of a fifth European Cup final appearance – and a second on home soil – after the Reds beat Chelsea 2-1 (3-1 on aggregate) at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.There were nervy moments, sure, but United were never put under the sort of sustained pressure required to crack a Reds side that has looked so solid in Europe this season.

Javier Hernandez put the home side in front just before the interval before Chelsea's Ramires saw red for a second bookable offence 20 minutes from time. That appeared to extinquish any hopes the Blues had of reaching the last four, until Drogba popped up to equalise against the run of play.

Chelsea's revival lasted barely a minute, though. Ji-sung Park, so often pivotal in big games, struck the hammer blow, chesting down Giggs' pass inside the area before rifling a left-footed shot into the far corner.

Earlier, both managers had sprung surprises. Drogba, Chelsea's biggest threat over the two legs, had to make do with a place on the bench as Ancelotti kept faith with Fernando Torres, while Nani was recalled by Sir Alex Ferguson at the expense of Antonio Valencia.

United's other change came at right back. Rafael, who limped out of last week's first leg after sustaining a knee injury, failed a late fitness test so John O'Shea stepped into the breach.

Both teams enjoyed spells of early possession, although neither carved out a presentable chance until 14 minutes when Torres teed up Nicolas Anelka on the edge of the area and the Frenchman skewed his shot just wide of the post. That was the cue for a flurry of action.

Wayne Rooney let fly from 35 yards with a volley that swerved wickedly but ultimately nestled in Petr Cech's arms before Frank Lampard forced Edwin van der Sar into a smart save when he side-footed goalwards from 18 yards.

Before that, van der Sar had bravely rushed off his line to claim the ball at Ramires' feet and Torres had glanced a header wide from an Anelka cross, while Park and Hernandez had both spread panic in the Chelsea penalty area.

The visitors, knowing only a win would do, played with litte fear and Ramires and Lampard sought to drive forward from midfield at every opportunity. And so the Reds were often camped just outside the penalty area, defending in two banks of four, while Hernandez stayed furthest forward and Rooney dropped in the hole.

For all the defending United were forced to do early on, though, it was the Reds who found the net first, Hernandez heading home a curled Rooney cross from the right wing. But the referee's assistant on the south touchline had his flag in the air before the ball even crossed the line. It was a tight thing and on another day play would have been waved on. Not tonight.

There was momentary panic among United fans when van der Sar appeared to rush foolishly out of his goal in an attempt to reach a long ball. Indeed, Anelka got there first. But the goalkeeper turned on his heels, waited for his moment and executed a perfect sliding tackle to dispossess the Frenchman and clear the danger. It wasn't the first time van der Sar had won a personal duel with Anelka on the European stage, of course.

Chelsea's early bluster blew cool as the half wore on. Instead, United looked livelier and spent long periods encamped in the Londoners' half. So it was no surprise when the Reds took the lead just before the interval.

Again it was Hernandez – who else? - lurking within an inch of offisde. But this time, when he applied a finish into the roof of the net to Giggs' probing low cross, the assistant's flag remained down. United, in Sir Alex's 100th European tie at Old Trafford, were ahead.

The goal, the Mexican's 18th of the season, owed much to Giggs and O'Shea, whose clever interchange on the right wing cut out Anelka and allowed Giggs the space to dart into the penalty area and measure his killer pass to the far post.

When the net bulged, United's fans took the roof off. The roar was primal, a guttural howl of ecstacy that only a football match of this magnitutde can produce. Sir Alex may have described Chelsea's desire to win the Champions League as an obsession, but he was right when he pointed out United are just as desperate to lift the trophy again. And to do it at Wembley, the scene of the club's first European success, back in 1968... just imagine.

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti withdrew the ineffectual Torres at half-time and threw on Drogba. The big Ivory Coast striker had posed problems in the first leg and again he asked questions of United's back four.

He screwed a speculative shot wide on 55 minutes just before the hour mark and won a free-kick when he tangled with Patrice Evra on the end of the box. His very presence seemed to lift the visitors and when Salomon Kalou joined Drogba up front Chelsea looked a far more potent proposition.

At the other end, Nani tested Cech with a stinging shot from 20 yards that the Chelsea stopper shoveled around the post, while Giggs spurned a glorious chance to double United's lead when he headed tamely at Cech from Rooney's delicious delivery.

Then came Ramires' second booking, issued for another foul on Nani, who proved a constant thorn in Chelsea's side. As Ramires disappeared down the tunnel, Chelsea's chances of Champions League success seemed to go with him. How would Carlo Ancelotti's men, two goals down on aggregate, recover from this?

United fans didn't think it was possible. Drogba, though, had other ideas. The forward touched on an Essien pass, shook off Vidic's attentions and blasted the ball past van der Sar to give the Londoners hope.

But Park settled the game – and the tie – almost immediately to book a spot in the Champions League last four. The Reds go marching on.

Manchester United Vs. Chelsea Highlights Video Clips

Manchester United [2 - 1] Chelsea
43' [1 - 0] J. Hernandez
77' [2 - 1] J. Park D. Drogba


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Manchester United Vs. Fulham Match Result Report

United may not have always played like champions on Saturday, but the Reds took another step towards a record 19th league title with a comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham at Old Trafford.
Of course, each step at this stage of the season must feel like a giant stride to those teams trailing Sir Alex's men. Matches are running out for the chasing pack to haul in a United side determined to land a historic piece of silverware. the At the final whistle, United (with only six games to play) were 10 points clear of Arsenal, 11 clear of Chelsea and 13 ahead of neighbours Manchester City.

On an Old Trafford pitch bathed in sunshine, the Reds outclassed Fulham and, but for a nervy opening 10 minutes, rarely looked troubled. Even the visitors seemed to take their foot off the gas in the second half and for long periods it felt more like a training game than a competitive fixture. It was as if Fulham, who came into the match having won just once in their 18 previous trips to M16, never seriously believed they'd buck the trend.

That said, the Cottagers did start brightly. Gael Kakuta, on loan from Chelsea, stretched Tomasz Kuszczak within 45 seconds. Moussa Dembele then did the same with barely six minutes on the clock, while Bobby Zamora blasted wide after finding space inside the area.

Perhaps the raft of changes Sir Alex made to his starting XI played its part in United's slow start. With one eye on Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final second leg, the boss rested eight players who'd started at Stamford Bridge three days earlier. Only Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Antonio Valencia survived.

Around them, there were rare starts for Tomasz Kuszczak and Darron Gibson, while Paul Scholes returned from suspension and John O'Shea and Anderson from injury.

Chris Smalling, in action for the first time against his former club since his move to Old Trafford last summer, looked every inch a distinguished defender. He tackled fearlessly, passed assuredly and won the majority of his aerial duels in both penalty areas.

Of course, there was no Wayne Rooney for Manchester United as the striker served the first of his two-game domestic suspension after being charged by the Football Association for using “offensive, abusive and/or insulting language” in the Reds' 4-2 win over West Ham last weekend.

In Rooney's absence, Dimitar Berbatov led the line in what was only his third start in United's last 12 fixtures. And it was the Bulgarian who shook the Reds out of their early slumber, firing United into the lead on 12 minutes.

Nani must be credited for much of its invention, the Portuguese jinking past a number of would-be Fulham tacklers and playing a neat one-two with Anderson before laying the ball off to Berbatov on his left to finish with a cool side-footted shot into the far corner.

Fulham's early bluster disappeared completely. For the rest of the half, the home side was comfortable in possession and carved out regular chances. Anderson wasted the best of those the Reds failed to convert, screwing his shot wide on 19 minutes, while Valencia and Nani caused havoc on the flanks.

Those two combined just after 30 minutes to double United's lead. Nani reached a long ball ahead of Schwarzer, rounded the Australian goalkeeper and homed in on goal. Fulham's Aaron Hughes did enough to divert Nani's shot sufficiently away from goal, but it spun straight to Antonio Valencia, who nodded in at the far post from close range.

Anderson and Gibson drew saves from Schwarzer at the start of the second half, while Fulham substitute Eidur Gudjohnsen curled an effort just past the post that had the visiting fans celebrating as if he'd scored. It took them a good 10 seconds to realise the ball had actually passed the wrong side of the post.

Zamora then went close with a free-kick on 72 minutes, but it was a rare moment of genuine tension in a 45 minutes that will be forgotten as quickly as it began. United, too, were sluggish, doing just enough to hold onto the lead. It was understandable, though: the game was won, the points in the bag. Why waste energy?

O'Shea hit the target from distance and substitute Michael Owen wriggled into the penalty area late on, but in the end the Reds' first-half exertions were enough to earn three points.

Players, fans, even Sir Alex Ferguson, enjoyed a brief moment of celebration at the final whistle. After all, with just six games to play and a 10-point lead, the Reds' title chances look good.

But almost as quickly as the roar went up it subsided and thoughts turned immediately to Chelsea's visit on Tuesday night. That should provide a sterner test.

Manchester United Vs. Fulham Highlights Video Clips

Manchester United [2 - 0] Fulham
11' [1 - 0] D. Berbatov
31' [2 - 0] L.A. Valencia


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chelsea Vs. Manchester United Match Report Result

It's advantage United at half-time in the all-English Champions League quarter-final, thanks to Wayne Rooney's second opening goal in two missions on Chelsea's manor and a sterling rearguard action.
While the Reds won't be as comfortable as Real Madrid (4-0), Schalke (5-2) and Barcelona (5-1) heading into next week's second legs, Sir Alex Ferguson's men will still be favourites to reach the semi-finals after this psychologically significant win at Stamford Bridge. It was United's first victory in Chelsea's backyard since April 2002 when Rooney was a sixteen year-old still awaiting his senior Everton debut and the Reds were chasing, ultimately in vain, a fourth successive league title.

Rio Ferdinand - United's major signing in that same year, 2002 - returned to the Reds' line-up for his first appearance since 1 February and made a confident start, beating the diving Fernando Torres to a low ball in from the right. The same Chelsea striker buzzed around the United area in the early stages but his only shot on target was straight at Edwin van der Sar, also back in action after missing the weekend's win at West Ham.

More Wayne Rooney headlines flashed in front of our eyes momentarily when he collapsed in pain in the third minute, after Michael Essien’s raised studs caught the Reds forward on the top of the foot. Fortunately Rooney recovered, while his Ghanaian assailant escaped a caution.

United’s first corner appeared to cause some panic in the Chelsea ranks, with Didier Drogba making a hash of his clearance but then redeeming himself with a vital diversion of Ji-sung Park’s shot. The fit-again Korean scored when United last gleaned a positive result at Stamford Bridge – 1-1 in September 2008 – so it was no surprise to see him starting again, for only the second time since Boxing Day.

Drogba’s better known for business at the other end, of course, and he almost capped Chelsea’s decent opening to this tie when he powered a rising shot towards goal, only to see van der Sar’s fingertips flick the effort over the crossbar.

The Dutchman’s intervention enabled the Reds to draw first blood instead. Michael Carrick instigated the attack with a diagonal ball out to the left wing but it was the sublime first touch from Ryan Giggs that really took the breath away. Certainly the Chelsea rearguard were left gasping for air as the oldest outfield player on the pitch advanced past Bosingwa and pulled the ball back for Rooney – who else – to slot home, in off the base of the far post.

After 24 minutes, the vital away goal sought by Sir Alex Ferguson was in the bag and with it, a notable Champions League feat for Rooney – the fifth straight year in which he’s scored at the quarter-final stage. Moments later there was a concern that Wayne’s vital contribution would be his last, when another clumsy challenge – this time from Ramires – left him wincing. But Rooney is made of sterner stuff, especially when he has the scent of more goals in his nostrils after notching four in five days in London.

Torres famously can’t buy a goal, of course; even when he was played into space beyond the United back four, a heavy touch enabled Vidic to catch up and then pick him up angrily after the Spaniard went down too easily, without any contact. Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco didn’t show the first yellow card to Torres for his tumble – that dubious honour was reserved for Yury Zhirkov, after a high kick to Javier Hernandez’s head.

There were chances at both ends as the half ended dramatically. Cech saved well from Rooney; then Evra rode to United’s rescue with a brilliant goalline clearance to deny Lampard after Torres’ flick beat van der Sar but came back off the right-hand post. The Chelsea pair both lacked power in their connections but all the same, Evra’s alertness and agility deserve great credit as the Reds entered the break still 1-0 up.

The half-time lead survived an early scare when Ramires despatched a free header wide, shortly before Sir Alex was forced into his first substitution. Rafael was stretchered off after a collision with Drogba, but just as he did on Saturday, the United manager declined to send on a defender.

Instead Sir Alex turned a negative into a positive by bringing on an attacking player again, in the form of Nani. Valencia switched to right-back and the Reds regrouped to weather a storm and watch Drogba’s overhead kick bounce marginally beyond the far post. The same upright was also passed by an Essien volley but really there was little for van der Sar to do at this stage. His opposite number, on the other glove, did have to intervene smartly when Nani whipped a ball across the face of goal on the counter-attack. Cech’s touch was just enough to take the ball away from Hernandez; without it, the Mexican would surely have made it 2-0.

This match reporter almost jinxed it for United’s goalkeeper, when Torres’ arcing header looked for a split-second as if it was going to beat him in the 73rd minute. But van der Sar produced one of the best saves of this age-defying final season, flying to his left at full stretch to push the effort away.

While Torres continued to toil in search of his elusive first goal for Chelsea, his team-mates Drogba, Zhirkov and later Bosingwa were withdrawn. Nicolas Anelka, Florent Malouda and Jon Obi Mikel took their places in a mainly attacking alteration by Carlo Ancelotti, while Sir Alex opted for a simple change of striker - Dimitar Berbatov on for Hernandez.

None of the new personnel could make a difference to the scoreline although Anelka might have done had Evra not beaten him to Malouda's cross with a brave header. Nani, meanwhile, could have doubled the Reds' lead on the break but Cech was quickly off his line to smother the danger.

Evra's good work was almost undone when he appeared to bring down Ramires inside the box in injury time but referee Undiano ignored the vehement shouts from the Chelsea players and their partisan crowd. He didn't, however, turn a blind eye when Torres also went looking for a penalty and booked the frustrated Spain striker for simulation.

There was nothing fake about United's triumph, however, or undeserved. This was a richly-merited victory - now all Sir Alex's men have to do is finish the job in front of the faithful. Bring on the second leg.

Chelsea Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clips

Chelsea [0 - 1] Manchester United
24' [0 - 1] W. Rooney


Saturday, April 2, 2011

West Ham United Vs. Manchester United Match Result Report

Wayne Rooney struck a stunning second half hat-trick as United roared back from two goals down to register a pulsating victory at Upton Park.

Mark Noble converted a pair of first-half penalties for West Ham to seemingly deal the Reds’ title hopes an untimely setback. United had bossed the match despite Noble’s double, however, and deservedly overturned the scoreline in the second period.

Rooney curled home a magnificent long-range free-kick, thundered in a superb leveller and converted a penalty in a breathless 15-minute spell, before substitute Javier Hernandez turned home a late clincher to cap another rousing fightback from the Reds.

Watching from the stands in the second instalment of his touchline ban, Sir Alex Ferguson will again wonder how his side insist on putting all their followers through the wringer, before switching his attention to Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Stamford Bridge.

With the visit to Chelsea looming, Nani, Dimitar Berbatov and Chicharito all started on the bench, while Edwin van der Sar was a precautionary absentee with a minor groin injury. Sir Alex's defensive selection was preordained, with Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Rafael all injured and Jonny Evans starting his three match ban. Fabio and Patrice Evra started at full-back, flanking a central-defensive partnership of Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic.

As United bossed the early exchanges, Smalling's first telling contribution of the game was a thumping header which Rob Green comfortably tipped over the bar. After another corner, however, the Reds fell behind. Thomas Hitzelsperger's gargantuan pass released Carlton Cole and, as the striker flicked the ball over Evra, the defender's raised hand blocked the ball’s path. Few protests met referee Lee Mason’s award of a penalty, which Noble duly dispatched past Kuszczak.

Despite the shock of falling behind against the run of play, United’s response was bright, with Antonio Valencia particularly prominent in some menacing forward probes. The Ecuadorian’s crosses prompted a succession of scrambled clearances from the hosts, as did a Wayne Rooney centre which narrowly eluded Ji-sung Park’s attempted diving header.

The Reds’ steady attempts to find a route back into the game were handed another blow after 23 minutes as Cole won his second penalty, advancing into the area and tumbling over the outstretched leg of Vidic. Unquestionably a foul, but outside the area according to the Serbian, inside it in the view of the striker and, most importantly, referee Mason. Noble steered home another unerring finish.

The flow of the game continued in the same vein, with United comfortably bossing possession. The Reds’ first real opening fell to Ji-sung Park, whose stinging half-volley was somehow turned over the bar by Green. From the subsequent corner Smalling rose highest again, but steered his header wide.

On the break, Hitzelsperger thrashed a half-volley wide with the hosts’ first notable attempt in open play. The German then came within a yard of West Ham’s third goal with a superb curling free-kick, awarded after Vidic had missed a header and subsequently hauled down Demba Ba. Much to the hosts’ ire, the Serbian was merely booked, while the home support demanded a dismissal.

The interval came and went with the deficit poised at two goals, and Sir Alex endeavoured to prompt a revival by introducing Chicharito at the expense of Evra, and moving Giggs to left-back. Little more than 30 seconds of the second period had passed when the makeshift full-back crossed for the substitute, who stabbed an effort over the bar in a promising start.

Though West Ham defended stoutly, with Manuel da Costa particularly outstanding in the centre, it seemed a matter of time before United’s growing pressure yielded a breakthrough. When it arrived, in keeping with the game’s previous goals, it came from a set-piece.

With 25 minutes remaining, Noble brought down Carrick outside the West Ham area. Rooney stepped up before steering a wonderful free-kick round the wall and inside Green’s left-hand post. United’s dander was up: game on.

Within seconds of the restart, Gibson’s long-range effort was deflected wide, while Carrick’s hooked effort from the subsequent corner only fractionally cleared Green’s crossbar. The England goalkeeper then had to be alert to turn away a near-post poke from substitute Dimitar Berbatov, who had replaced Park.

As West Ham’s defence creaked, Rooney again struck. A patient passing move culminated in Valencia flashing a left-footed pass inside for Rooney, and the striker’s superb first touch took him away from a cluster of bodies and created the room for a devastating low finish past Green. United’s travelling contingent went wild, and time remained for another notch of delirium.

Berbatov drew a fine save from Green with a stinging effort from just inside the area as the white-shirted visitors poured forward. Fabio’s marauding run down the right flank culminated in a cross which struck Matthew Upson’s arm, prompting the award of the game’s third penalty, which Rooney duly slotted home to complete his own treble and United’s comeback.

Still, the Reds pressed for more and looked to exploit gaps in the increasingly ragged home defence. With six minutes remaining, Chicharito notched his now customary goal by sliding in from close range after Giggs’ cross had deflected through the legs of two defenders.

“We shall not be moved,” roared the jubilant away support, who had witnessed yet another instance of the sheer bloody-mindedness that has so often separated United from all the rest.

West Ham United Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clips

West Ham United [2 - 4] Manchester United
11' [1 - 0] M. Noble (pen.)
25' [2 - 0] M. Noble (pen.)
65' [2 - 1] W. Rooney
73' [2 - 2] W. Rooney
79' [2 - 3] W. Rooney (pen.)
84' [2 - 4] J. Hernandez