Community Shield: Chelsea 1-3 Man Utd
Written by Joe Carroll (Chelsea fan).
A sluggish Chelsea side paid the price at Wembley yesterday as they surrendered to a 3-1 reversal at the hands of Manchester United in the Community Shield.
United goals from Antonio Valencia and new whiz-kid Javier Hernandez gave the Red Devils a two goal lead either side of half-time. Salomon Kalou responded for the Blues on the 82nd minute, but the thought of a late comeback was nipped in the bud as Dimitar Berbatov came off the bench to wrap up a deserved victory with a few minutes remaining.
The Londoners went in to the charity match with a quiet confidence of coming away with a win. Boss Carlo Ancelotti had won every encounter with Sir Alex Ferguson before yesterday’s game and will be disappointed with the way in which his side were so easily brushed aside by their title rivals.
Whilst the game is technically a meaningless affair, Ancelotti will feel there is much work to be done before Saturday’s Premier league opener against West Brom, especially bearing in mind the Blues’ poor pre-season form. Excluding the win over Crystal Palace (a game which featured mostly youth players) Chelsea have lost all of their friendly encounters.
Up against a United side who have scored goals for fun in their pre-season campaign, Chelsea actually started the brighter of the two. The Blues were enjoying most of the possession and Nicolas Anelka was confident enough to try and put his side into an early lead with a speculative 20-yard effort. United ‘keeper Edwin Van der Sar made a smart save but couldn’t hold it and directed the ball into the path of the on-rushing Kalou. Unfortunately for the Chelsea forward his effort rolled tamely across the United goal.
Minutes later Chelsea came close again, this time Branislav Ivanovic with the header from a deep cross that forced van der Sar into making a fine save. However Chelsea rued their failure to convert early chances and found themselves behind 4 minutes before the break.
Midfield veteran Paul Scholes had been dictating much of United’s play up to now and it was one of his long, searching balls that has become so characteristic of his style of play that ultimately undid the Chelsea defence. The ex-England man released Wayne Rooney down the right flank with a 50-yard ball that the England striker did well to pull back. Ecuadorian international Valencia was on hand for a simple tap in to give his side the lead.
Whilst United ultimately deserved their lead, the manner in which it came about will surely disappoint Ancelotti the most. Ashley Cole didn’t quite look up to speed and Valencia exploited this at every opportunity. But it would be unfair to pin point Cole for sole criticism. The entire back-line must take responsibility for basic errors.
The second half panned out in a similar fashion to the first, with Chelsea looking the more livelier creating several chances. Florent Malouda went close when he was found by a subtle through ball from Frank Lampard, the Frenchman’s shot firing inches wide of the United post. Van der Sar came again to United’s rescue when Kalou shot powerfully from just outside the area and was equal to a left-footed effort from Cole as Chelsea sensed an equaliser.
Despite their attacking efforts, without the finishing to cap them off Chelsea always looked like they could concede. Didier Drogba was introduced in the second half in place of John Obi Mikel, but even last season’s leading scorer could not find an equaliser.
United, sensing their opponents defensive frailties went on the offensive themselves and were duly rewarded. Another long ball sent Valencia on his way and a cross from the right hand side was met at the back post by an unmarked Hernandez who had entered the fray at half time for Rooney.
The young Mexican finished in unorthodox fashion, as he adjusted his body well to connect with the low cross, directing the ball into the goal with his right foot via his face. It was egg on the faces of Chelsea’s defender’s who uncharacteristically allowed the striker the space to apply the finish.
Chelsea, to their credit rallied well and sought to give the game a more tense ending when Kalou equalised with 8 minutes left on the clock. Substitute Daniel Sturridge’s shot was parried by van der Sar and fell kindly to the feet of the Ivorian who couldn’t help but score.
But ultimately, this was not to be Chelsea’s day and another United substitute killed off any chance of this tie going beyond normal time. Dimitar Berbatov, on for Michael Owen at half time rounded off a well deserved United win with a stylish finish. The Bulgarian was put through with minutes to go and calmly lobbed the on-rushing Hilario, sending Chelsea fans back to west London knowing the shield was heading up the M1 to Manchester.
Whilst the result was far from what Ancelotti or Blues fans would have wanted, there was much in the performance to suggest that they can take all 3 points from their opening day game this coming Saturday. The Blues fans out there who care for a stat or two will be slightly buoyed by the fact that they had more shots on target, better passing success and slightly more possession than yesterday’s opponents. Ancelotti had this to say on their defeat:
“We played too slow in the first half.
“We had good control of the game but we didn’t have a chance because our game was slow and Manchester went up at the end of the first half.
“It was not our best day but this is normal, it can happen at the start of the season”
It is important that Ancelotti gets his players up to speed in time for Saturday’s Premier league opener and more importantly that they knock the defensive errors on show today firmly on the head, otherwise they may find themselves falling behind in the early dash towards the Premier League prize
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