MANCHESTER - Manchester United kept calmest among the "chaos" to maintain their perfect start
to the Premier League season with a 3-1 win over Chelsea on
Sunday in a match featuring sublime finishes and ridiculous
The champions had kept up their free-scoring ways, going
three goals up by half-time thanks to Chris Smalling, Nani and
Wayne Rooney but the final scoreline did not reflect a game
where visitors Chelsea had 21 attempts at goal.
The most awful miss came from Fernando Torres, who
inexplicably shot wide in front of an open goal in the 83rd
minute, somehow managing to eclipse Rooney's own howler earlier
when the United striker had slipped while taking a penalty.
As Old Trafford erupted into a loud chuckle at Torres'
misfortune, the beleaguered Spaniard fell to his knees unable to
believe what had happened on a day where he had otherwise shown
glimpses of his best and had netted his first goal of the
"Two of the best strikers missed crazy opportunities,"
Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas told a news conference. "It was a
United, who have won five games out of five, took just eight
minutes to go ahead when Smalling headed in an Ashley Young free-kick from the left but looked offside.
They doubled the score when Nani conjured a chance out of
nothing, netting a scorcher from 25 metres out on 37 minutes
after an excellent ball across the pitch from Jonny Evans.
The winger celebrated with a cartwheel and from then on
United were free-wheeling as Rooney added a third on the stroke
of half-time after the ball fell kindly as United took their
chances while the visitors did not.
Chelsea, who had missed gilt-edged opportunities through
Ramires and Torres, came out after the break knowing they needed
to do something different and introduced forward Nicolas Anelka
for midfielder Frank Lampard.
The substitution paid immediate dividends as the Frenchman
put Torres through for a great finish with a flick of his foot
as he notched just his second goal for the London club since his
record 50 million pound move in January.
Torres had several opportunities as he suggested he was
looking more like the player who had sparkled in his Liverpool
days and not just because he had ditched his brunette locks in
favour of a return to blonde.
He looked hungry going forward and twisted and turned to get
himself into the right places in the box with just his final
touch letting him down as he kept shooting wide and over.
Just how he managed to put the ball several metres wide when
he had done all the hard work to get through the United defence
and past keeper David de Gea will haunt him for some time as a
chance he could have scored in his sleep.
Villas-Boas said he was delighted with the way his players
had kept pushing after the "negative impact" of the half-time
scoreline but it was counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson who had the most
to be happy about as United went two points clear at the top.
But the careless mistakes, such as Anderson passing straight
to Chelsea players several times, stuck in his mind.
"We gave the ball away so many times and they kept counter
attacking and they could have scored two or three in the first
half," Ferguson said.
"We should have finished it off with the opportunities we
had but it was a fantastic game... I think we created a bit
more and got into good areas especially with Nani and [Ashley]
Young. The Nani goal was an unbelievable finish. At the end of
the day we were great at times but then we were careless."
One of their sloppiest moment came in the 55th minute when a
grinning Rooney stepped up to take a penalty, awarded after Jose
Bosingwa had tripped Nani who had just hit the woodwork, and
landed on his bottom when his left leg gave way as he took it.
Reminiscent of when Chelsea's John Terry slipped and hit the
post in the penalty shootout between the sides in the 2008
Champions League Final, the ball this time ended up several
metres to the right of the post.
Rooney thus missed the chance to take his goal tally into
double figures, although he has nevertheless enjoyed a
remarkable start where he as scored in every league game so far
He also had plenty of chances to make it three league
hat-tricks in a row, hitting the post from a few metres out in
the 77th minute.
Another black cloud on an otherwise sunny day at Old
Trafford was the departure of Javier Hernandez to a leg injury
in the second half after a late tackle by Ashley Cole which
earned the defender only a yellow card and no penalty.
The Mexican, who had a quieter than usual day, limped off
the field and his manager was less than impressed with what he
called a "shocking tackle" by Cole.
Ferguson said Hernandez, who only returned to the starting
line-up last week after concussion, could be out for two or three
England striker puts pen to paper on permanent deal
The new season is but six weeks away (in the Football League)
"Get on the weights," says expert
Estudiantes hang on for victory in bizarre season-defining match
Who would you rather have playing for your club?
12 months out, the stars look to the World Cup
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Adidas Nitrocharge for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010