Chelsea have the final laugh at Old Trafford
After 87 minutes of “‘not-so-memorable” match between the giants of the Premier League, it was Chelsea that took home all three points after a deflected shot-off Phil Jones to put the Europa League finalists third on the table.
Despite Ferguson’s claims that United weren’t planning to take their foot off the gas and aim to finish the season on a high regardless of already being crowned English champion, lack of intensity, concentration and accuracy was all too vivid from the men in red.
Unlike United, Chelsea had it all to play for as this was a key match for their pursuit of Champions League football in next season’s campaign. Rafa Benitez put out his best 11 on the pitch with Frank Lampard captaining the team as John Terry watched from the bench. Torres was also on the substitutes list with injured Hazard being a missed figure for the Chelsea midfield.
The first half United enjoyed the better of chances, coming close to opening the scoring on handful of occasions. The high-flying Dutchman, Van Persie was on the receiving end of perfectly measured pass from Giggs but the 29-year old failed to make strong contact with the ball letting it go wide.
The second best chance of the game fell to Van Persie once again just seconds before the half time whistle, with Giggs providing the cross from the left hand side only for Cech to react the quickest and claim.
Chelsea were starting to enjoy a little bit of the possession on the United half and immediately put United defence under pressure with a perfect chip from Lampard finding unmarked Mata, who somehow missed the ball completely.
With 20 minutes remaining, both managers made a change. Ferguson brought on Rooney for Anderson and Benitez sent Torres to try and change the course of the match in their favour.
The game didn’t ignite until the last 5 minutes on the clock, when Mata’s shot that looked to be going wide flicked off Phil Jones and ended up at the back of United goal sending travelling Chelsea fans wild. Sir Alex Ferguson looked furious as seconds before the goal the United camp were convinced of Rooney being fouled in the Chelsea half, however Howard Webb penalised the English striker.
United fury grew as Rafael was given his marching orders on the injury time for a kick on David Luiz. The young defender reacted in the worst possible way to the Brazilian’s arm catching him on the face twice and he kicked his fellow countryman on the calf causing Luiz to go down theatrically.
The win for Chelsea now puts them firmly on the third spot with a game and a point advantage over fourth placed Arsenal. Chelsea will next face Tottenham on Wednesday and if they were to get a win in three days’ time the Europa League finalists will be guaranteed a top four finish this season.
Umida Ibrahimova, sports correspondent