United won 2-1!!!
Oh yeah! Sweetness!
I did not believe Chelsea was gelling as a team. Team has not been the same. Not since Ray Wilkins. Not since Fernando Torres.
They started the game aggressively, just as I thought they would. They were motivated and they were determined. And they were looking a shade the better team. However, sadly this was not a well oiled team. They were not playing as a team. And they lack momentum and confidence.
In football confidence means everything. Everything.
On the 15th minute, Florent Malouda sprinted into United's penalty box and teed up Frank Lampard with beautifully. The Frank Lampard of the past would have buried that shot. Instead, Lampard drove straight at Van der Sar, who had the easiest task of stopping the ball.
And despite having many more goal attempts, that was Chelsea only attempt on target. Then Rooney ( he's back isn't he? ) fired an incredible cross from the right and Hernandez send a diving header into the net. But the linesman raised his flag. It was so, so close. And I have seen many such incidents given as a goal.
And then on the 42nd minute, United open the scoring from yet another crossfield ball. This time Rooney hit a crossfield ball for Giggsy on the right wing. (Yeah Giggsy and Rooney was everywhere!) Giggsy laid the ball back for O'Shea. And O'Shea caught Malouda and Anelka ball watching as he returned the ball back for Giggsy in a open real estate in the penalty box. Giggsy drove the ball across.
In came Rooney (see above). Cech had to dive in or else Rooney would have the simplest task of putting the ball into an empty net. The ball, however, was beyond Rooney's reach. But not for Hernandez who came in rushing on the far post and as we know, Hernandez, just doesn't miss such opportunity!
United had the lead and Chelsea had to score twice to progress.
Ancelotti had to do something. Out came Torres and in came Drogba. And Drogba looked a sharp a menace as ever before. How Ancelotti must have rued not starting with Drogba.
So it was Drogba, Anelka and Malouda leading the attack.
It was still not clicking for Ancelotti, for it was Anelka who started sulking ( as usual) throughout the match. Out came Anelka and in came, Kalou.
There were more purpose then for Chelsea.
But alas, luck was not on Chelsea side. Ramires barged onto Nani. A soft bookable foul but it was Ramires second yellow for the night and Chelsea was down to 10 men.
But Drogba was a man possessed. The minute he came on, he fired a shot just narrowly wide. Drogba looked extremely motivated and determined. I could almost see the fire in his eyes. He was hungry and he wanted to save Chelsea season.
Six minutes after playing with just 10 men, Essien found Drogba. Drogba was just onside as he chests down Essien pass and sprinted towards Van der Sar. The angle was tight as Drogba ran from right to left, just like an old fashion inside left. Van der Sar, as usual, made himself as big as possible and stayed up as long as possible. Drogba, not breaking stride, hit the ball low and hard and the ball flashed past Van der Sar legs in a hurry. That was the old Drogba, Chelsea was missing!
That was the 76 minutue.
Manchester United 1 Chelsea 1.
Another 14 minutes to play. Oh no. Could this be it for United, I wondered. Another goal wins it for Chelsea. There's time and there's Drogba. Not to mention Kalou too.
Surely not. I hoped.
Gosh my prayers must have been answered. Chelsea, somehow, went asleep after scoring!! Giggsy send an inch perfect pass for Park to chase down the left. And Park was unmarked! And Park did not disappoint. He drove the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
Man of the match? Giggsy, without a shadow of a doubt! Is he really 37? Or is he just 27? :P (And yeah, Giggsy only had all the 3 goal assists!)
A check on players performance:
Wayne Rooney: He's back. Make no doubt. If not for Giggsy, Rooney's contribution was crucial.
Michael Carrick? He's back too! So is Park!
Rooney and Hernandez? That's United future, right there.
And RiO? He had a couple of knocks and I was surprised to see him finish the match.
Moment of the match? Van der Sar tackle on Anelka on the half hour! What a tackle! ( Have to say it was all VDS fault. Yup, VDS only has himself to blame as he rushed out in haste and was almost caught out by Anelka. )