Connect with us

Match Reports

Manchester United cling on as Chelsea strike back

imageManchester United and Chelsea will contest a replay at Stamford Bridge after the London side surged back from two goals to force a two-all draw at Old Trafford.

United raced into a two goal lead inside the first ten minutes through Hernandez and Rooney, and then created a plethora of chances in the remainder of the half as they attempted to close out the game. However, Chelsea weathered the first 45 minutes and came out strong in the second half, equalising through Hazard and Ramires, before themselves wasting ample opportunities to cap an arguably deserved comeback win.

With not even 5 minutes on the clock, Javier Hernandez looked like he had banished any demons from Tuesday night as he was on the end of Carrick’s pinpoint pass to loop a header over a stranded Petr Cech. It was testament to the quality of the delivery that the United players went to Carrick first, before congratulating the goal scorer himself. 5 minutes later, Nani was crudely halted at the corner of the box, and Rooney’s shot-cum-shot freekick drifted into the far corner to double the Red Devil’s lead.

Chelsea, despite substantial spells of possession, could barely make an impression in the first half as United, despite not being at their flowing, effervescent best, created several other good chances. Patrice Evra delivered an inviting cutback only for Rooney to shoot straight at Cech, who then had to be at his acrobatic best to tip a goalward bound David Luiz header over the bar. Cleverley also squandered another shooting opportunity.

The second half began as a scrappy affair, before two Chelsea substitutions on 52 minutes changed the nature of the tie. Eden Hazard and John-Obi Mikel came on for Victor Moses and Frank Lampard, and it was Hazard who notched Chelsea’s first goal, with a cleverly curled effort from the corner of the box, that nestled in the top corner. Not only did the Belgian’s strike give Chelsea players hope, it also seemed to startle the United players and, perhaps exhausted physically and mentally from Tuesday’s excursions, they never sufficiently recovered. The visitors were level less than ten minutes later as Ramires, given greater freedom to roam after Mikel’s introduction, burst onto Oscar’s pass, calmly turned onto his left and slotted past David De Gea.

At this point, United seemed to lose their composure, as at times they treated the ball as if it were toxic, constantly returned possession to the Chelsea attacking trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar who, interchanging at will, swarmed over the beleaguered United defence like flies over a rotting carcass.

In the end, after starting so promisingly, Sir Alex was glad to see his side barely hang on to their place in the semi-final draw as Mata was denied by a brilliant De Gea save, when he looked poised to dump United out of their second cup competition in a week after turning past Jonny Evans inside the box. Hazard also came close to winning the game, but the replay at Stamford Bridge will decide who advances to face Manchester City in the semi-final at Wembley.




  1. Opti

    10 March 2013 at 22:23

    I don’t understand why we claim that we were exhausted physically due to Tuesday Madrid match when Chelsea went to Romania and lost on Thursday…. Shouldn’t they have been more tired? And if we were so tired, why not rotate squad? Buttner couldn’t have been worse than Evra. Rafael could have been replaced by Smalling. Isn’t Jones back soon too? What about Anderson?

    Carrick’s assist and Chicharito’s goal + De Gea’s last minute save I could watch all day.

    • Ian

      10 March 2013 at 23:16

      And why does Evra get forward so much if exhausted, common sense alone should dictate he stays back under the circumstances.

    • The_Philosopher

      11 March 2013 at 07:55

      @Opti: What about Anderson?

      Very good question.

      Has Anderson retired? I haven’t seen him play football in forever.

  2. pjch

    10 March 2013 at 22:44

    Great start but then the wheels come off. Our midfield was shocking, Cleverly is not up to United standard, Kagawa can score 3 goals against Norwich but against better opposition is out of his depth. We have nobody who can take a hold of a game and dictate it from midfield. In fact midfield was overrun countless times and not for the first time this season. Chico didn’t get the service ( apart from his goal) that he needs and Rooney had dificulty because he seemed to be trying too hard. Thanks to the centre halfs and deGea for keeping us in it.
    SAF I think its time to get someone in midfield who can control a game.

    • Redrich

      11 March 2013 at 02:07

      @pjch: Cleverly was not just up to it, he was f******* awful. He is a lost soul and a work-in-progress mate. He is 2 years away from a big league midfielder and it’s a blatant statement of our lack of depth in central midfied

  3. jos

    11 March 2013 at 02:25

    Against Chelsea its always a game of two halves. First is ours and second is always theirs. This has been the trend since that fateful CL final in Moscow.

    Yesterday also first half was ours and second was theirs. I think we should have scored that third goal in the first half. somehow chelsea are always able to make a strong comeback in second. its quite perplexing.

  4. ForeverRed

    11 March 2013 at 02:28

    It hardly bears thinking what Chelsea could achieve if Fergie was in charge of them and left alone to it as he has been at Utd… Perhaps more importantly to us, what we could achieve if we had a couple of their players instead of the ‘no value in the transfer market’ type acquisitions that predominated prior to RVP. Nothing personal, but let’s face it, we have very few players of the technical ability shown by several Chelsea players after they decided to make a game of it in the second half. I have rarely seen Utd so outplayed as we were in that period of the game. We were battered at OT and couldn’t get the ball out of defence. To say we were lucky to escape with a draw is an understatement.

    Fundamentally, and this has been said often, we can look good when having space in the middle to play, but as soon as we get pressed we do not have the technical ability to retain possession and turn defense into attack. (Even when we do counter, it’s often laboured by our wingplay or disrupted by the wrong/bad/backward pass). When we play even mediocre PL teams, how often do we come up with 60+% possession stats? But frequently against good teams, that is what happens to us. This is in part because we don’t have players who can, or will beat a man through skill and speed – even our wingers no longer do this and we certainly don’t have someone who can carry the ball in midfield (with the exception of the erratic Anderson). So we are predictable & other teams know this, resorting to hurried, mishit passes out of tight spots. The number of times we gave the ball away today through errant passing was frightening – and many of these were not under a great deal of pressure. Moreover, there isn’t really a plan B in such games other than bring on another striker/winger (or 2), when it is clear the problem is the lack of service the ones already on the field are getting form our midfield. It’s like having a flat, but changing one of the other tyres instead.

    In fairness, we’ve become very good at developing largely efficient workmanlike players for the PL marathon, but lack that extra bit of quality to defeat the best teams in a knockout format. Moreover, this team would be struggling to make the top four of the PL with any other manager but Fergie, whose own fighting spirit and will to win is stamped into the team. For all the criticism, the truth is we’re not that far away with this team! It’s so frustrating to think what we could achieve with just a couple of world class additions in key positions. Surely Fergie must see what we see and want to go out on a high, so why doesn’t he address it?

    • The_Philosopher

      11 March 2013 at 08:55

      @ForeverRed: So well said.

      We have the quality to keep grinding for the long haul premier league. But we lack the quality to convincingly conquer the truely special opponents that come once in a while.

      Mata and Hazard and Oscar are so good.

      I would take anyone of those three from Chelsea.

      Lampard’s blood is blue so I don’t think he would ever come to United.

      With regards to the mid-field problem. Shinji Kagawa is one of the more techincally gifted players in our squad. I think he should play central midfield or no.10 behind the striker.

      He is not best utilised on the wings.

      Bottom line though we do need a midfield general still. Hopefully Fergie will buy us one in the summer window.

      Why does Fergie just not buy one or two truely great players? That is the mystery of the century.

      But wait: wasn’t Ferguson trying to buy Lucas Moura before he chose PSG instead?

      Ferguson also claims that its not a money thing. We got the money he says but we just can’t get the players we want. And he won’t buy a player (that doesn’t completely excite him) just for the sake of buying a player.

  5. Opti

    11 March 2013 at 03:56

    I think some of this OTT criticism is unfair. We are not shit and the Real Madrid games proved that (along with having beaten Arsenal, Liverpool, City, Chelsea this season.

    BUT what I don’t understand is this “physical” fatigue today. I understand mental fatigue from the Season high in Minute 50 of Tuesday’s Madrid match to Season low after 90 minutes. Failure is a bitter pill to swallow. HOWEVER, we had two more days rest against Chelsea & we lead 2-0 after half-time.

    Why did we not just shut up shop? Park the bus? We go caught on counter attacks… because we could not keep possession. Simple.

    This summer, I cannot see how on Earth Fergie can avoid bringing in one midfielder who can play the role of Cleverley and support Carrick. Just someone who can impose a bit of a physical challenge yet with technical qualities. Fellaini-style player would be perfect. A young Essien or Ballack. Schweinsteiger. Someone like that. Is Strootman, like that?? Let’s see…

    • The_Philosopher

      11 March 2013 at 08:58

      @Opti: The criticism really is over the top.

      Slow down fellas

  6. slowshow

    11 March 2013 at 06:33

    Valencia is a very predictable and daft player and should not be wearing that no.7 jersey. He should be the first out the door at the end of the season cus I don’t see him improving from this current slump.

    • The_Philosopher

      11 March 2013 at 14:15

      @slowshow: I might keep Valencia as cover for the right back position.

      Or try him in midfield. But if he can’t pass then I would sell him as well.

      But Ferguson won’t sell him. Ferguson values him too much. I’m not sure why now days.

  7. The_Philosopher

    11 March 2013 at 07:57

    Chicharito just keeps scoring goals.

    He just keeps scoring goals.

    Put him on and 7 out of 10 times he gets you a goal.

    What does this kid need to do to get more game time?

  8. Vida Dollar

    11 March 2013 at 08:58

    To be honest yesterday’s draw was more bitter to swallow than the Champions league exit where we could bury our head in the sand and lay blame on the Ref. Truth of the matter is that in my view Fergie is more of a good man manager than a football tactician and in the past two years against quality opposition he has struggled to shine. In the premier league we had benefitted from a string of good fixtures and we almost thought we were up to it until Madrid showed up and our playstation tactics were again exposed. This season alone we have surrendered two goal advantages to Chelsea twice and manchester City and squandered an opportunity to progress in the carling cup versus chelsea. We fortuitously rescued the chelsea and city league matches with victories that can hardly be attributted to the manager.

    I dont know what our team does in practice but I assure you its certainly not keeping intelligent possession especially under pressure. Rooney’s pass completion yesterday was awful… Carrick with space is a prince but when squezzed also loses his cool in critical positions. He almost gave chelsea an assist yesterday with a wayward back pass across his defence and when you see such panic from senior players you know you are going home with nothing. Valencia is now seriously ouit of his depth while Nani continues to be frustrating at times. In short Shaddy tactics and suspect players = mediocre performances.

    • The_Philosopher

      11 March 2013 at 09:15

      @Vida Dollar: Don’t overlook the great tactical setup Ferguson had against Madrid.

      Yes at times we seem lost at sea tactically but I think yesterday’s problems are simply a rehash of the same problem we have had for many years, namely, a technically poor midfield.

      We don’t have world class talent in the middle of the park.

      You ask our midfield about ball possession and they will respond “whats that?”

      Our flawed midfield is nothing new.

      Valencia is tired and should never have been given that no.7 jersey.

      I would like to see Nani given an uninterupted season on the right wing before I write him off.

      Zaha is gonna come in next season so I’m not overly concerned about our wings. Although a talented left footed left winger would be a great buy as well.

      Ferguson’s tactics on the whole are good enough.

      The only thing suspect about our club is our lack of midfield prowess.

  9. Vinny S

    11 March 2013 at 09:01

    The game changed for utd, when Nani went off injured and Valencia came on. With Nani, although unpredictable, at least he can take a man on and keep the ball. Go left or right and is a goal threat. Valencia has lost something this season. He never takes on his man anymore, always cuts inside and looks to lay it off to either carrick in the middle or rafael on the overlap.

    Also, the story of Man Utds season, is that they dominate the first half of games and then sit back in the second half and let teams come back into it. It was no suprise that Chelsea when they had Oscar, Hazard and Mata on in the same team that they destroyed Utd.

    • The_Philosopher

      11 March 2013 at 11:34

      @Vinny S: I remember a time when the story of our season was: Concede one or two early goals then sweat the rest of the game and get a late winner.

      • Vida Dollar

        12 March 2013 at 07:36

        @ Philosopher what a befitting name by the way. I agree fergie had a brilliant technical set up for Madrid on the back of a 1-1 away result but in my view tactically he was not prepared for either Madrid scioring first or the eventuality of having to shore up if a player got send off. With the way things went for 50 minutes fortunately everything worked for us viz scoring a goal thereby preventing Madrid from marauding. Once we were a man down however it was a no brainer for Mourinho but Fergies response was to cheer on the fans. If we are honest however even though we led 1-0,playing at home when that card came up we all knew who was going through. Memories of City and Bayern Munich quickly came to mind and it was just a question of time. and time there was plenty of. But we were not in an impossible situation if fergies tactics were multi dimensional… Chelsea last yera were in worse sh** twice last year but just managed to get it right. So do I think Fergie is a good manager hell yes , he motivates his average players to heights that they would only dream of in other colours..Is he an above average tactician?? respectfully NO Mourinho, Bernitez and Pep do not lose sleep about that..Never mind the exegarrated niceties from Jose he knows with the right team he will beat SAF 8 times out of ten as the record will show.

        • The_Philosopher

          12 March 2013 at 13:19

          @Vida Dollar: I will agree that Ferguson was slow in responding to the red card which would suggest that he didn’t have sufficient contingencies.

          But there is a genius about Ferguson that even Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez and Pep Guardiola respect.

        • Moscow

          14 March 2013 at 17:29

          @Vida Dollar: Top comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest News