Chicharito on target as United draw first blood
Community Shield has never been looked upon as important piece of silverware though the team selection from both teams would suggest otherwise. Chelsea had world cup stars Lampard, Terry and Ashley Cole in the starting line up with Didier Drogba on the bench. Curlo Ancelotti in fact had surprised a few having named his squad a fully day before the kick off. There is always an element of surprise in Sir Alex’s team selection and this was no different as Michael Carrick made a miraculous recovery to start, days after it was feared he would miss at least a fortnight’s action. Michael Owen back after injury which forced him to miss last season’s finale started along side Rooney whose initial contributions were greeted with boos from the packed Wembley crowd.
It was United in fact who enjoyed the opening exchanges with Valencia and then Scholes unable to take advantage of being in great situations. Anelka produced the first save from van der Sar who appeared uncharacteristically tentative. However minutes later he produced a magnificent save from a close range header from Branislov Ivanovic who had another shot off target as Carrick’s clearance ricocheted off him and flew over later that half. It was a rare end-to-end ‘Chelsea v Manu’ game with chances coming at both ends. As the half wore on however Scholes started calling the shots from midfield and it was his penetrating ball that managed to carve open Chelsea’s defense. Rooney received a 60 yard pass from Scholes and set up a Valencia who made no mistake from close range to give United the lead with forty minutes gone. Second half saw a new set of front men for United as Hernandez and Berbatov replaced Owen and Rooney, with Ji Sung Park making way for Nani on the left.
The introduction of Drogba breathed new life into Chelsea as they slowly but surely took the game by the scruff of the neck. Talented young striker Daniel Sturridge replaced Anelka and Yossi Benayoun came on for Chelsea to replace Florent Malouda. The momentum had clearly shifted Chelsea’s way with Kalou and Essien going close and Ashley Cole troubling van der Sar with a tantalizing cross. However against the run of play, United doubled their advantage on 74 minutes in a most bizarre fashion with their new Mexican International striker Hernandez somehow bundling the ball over the line after his own shot had ricocheted off his face. Chelsea’s inexorable pressure would finally pay off as Kalou tapped in after van der Sar could not parry away to safety a fierce drive from Sturridge. This paved way for a nail biting finish and Drogba almost took it to penalties, only his shot smashing the wrong side of the netting. However after a brief spell of possession Nani released Berbatov who finished off the move with a classy chip to seal victory for United in stoppage time. It was a great contest particularly with Chelsea pressing United for large parts of the second half but the team that took their chances emerged victorious. If this was the trailer to the season then no doubt we are in for a season of exhilarating football and what better place to start than Anfield where Arsenal led by Fabregas come to visit in seven days’ time.