Late Penalty Sees Chelsea To 2-1 Win Over Manchester United

Manchester United too the lead on the half-hour mark, but two second half goals from Chelsea, the second from the spot, have given the Red Devils their second loss of the English Premier League season.

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Chelsea FC Vs. Manchester United, Match Report: Late Penalty The Difference As Blues Move Fourth

A late penalty was the difference at Stamford Bridge, where Frank Lampard's 79th minute conversion saw Chelsea to a 2-1 victory over league-leading Manchester United. In match played with enough energy to match the prestige of the rivalry, Manchester United got a 30th minute goal from Wayne Rooney to open scoring. An early second goal tally from David Luiz equalized before Lampard saw Chelsea past United and into fourth place, extended a home winning streak over the Red Devils that dates back to 2002.

The first half was played in three parts, the two 4-4-2 set-ups alternating control of the match. Over the opening quarter hour, Chelsea looked the better side, able to come outside-in to threaten United, particularly down their left side. When United asserted some control over the next 15 minutes, Chelsea's opening looked like early match energy. In the 30th minute, that energy was forgotten, with United taking the lead.

After a spell where Chelsea had trouble getting out of their own half - giveaways by John Terry and Ramires leading to quick chances for the visitors - United found themselves in possession at the edge of the Chelsea third, Wayne Rooney standing above the ball. With Chelsea's line backing into their own area, Rooney was able to take a couple of touches toward the middle of the park before letting go of a 24-yard rocket, soundly beating Petr Cech inside the left post, giving United a 1-0 lead.

After a lull that allowed Chelsea to adjust to the match's new circumstances, Chelsea resumed the approach with which they started. Florent Malouda continued to find opportunities to threaten from the left, finding little resistance from a seemingly reverential John O'Shea.

But it was through the middle the Chelsea created their most threatening chance of the half. Fernando Torres drew a fortunate whistle in the 41st minute, giving Frank Lampard a chance from 27 yards out. The midfielder's shot forced Edwin van der Sar to lay-out for his save, the rebound going high but straight to Branislav Ivanovic at the far post. The defender couldn't muster the required control with his first touch, a ball off his stomach saved off the line by van der Sar and Nemanja Vidic.

The second half started more evenly, but it wasn't long before Chelsea had found an equalizer. A corner to the right of van der Sar's goal saw Frank Lampard play a ball through the area. On the second movement, David Luiz was left unmarked to the right of goal. When the ball eventually found him eight yards out, the young Brazilian half-volleyed a ball inside van der Sar's left upright, giving the `keeper no chance to prevent the equalizer.

The one hour mark saw the match's first change, with Nicolas Anelka giving way for Didier Drogba. The Ivorian was a controversial if unsurprising exclusion, with Carlo Ancelotti electing to keep the tandem that won last week in Copenhagen.

Drogba's first spell on the pitch met a match where the sides had evened-out play. The energy Chelsea carried from their equalizer had dissipated. Manchester United had not only started holding more possession, they'd created some moments of worry for their hosts, with Wayne Rooney looking dangerous probing left of center.

In the 70th minute, Alex Ferguson made his first set of changes. Javier Hernández gave way for Dimitar Berbatov, a like-for-like. In a more historic move, Ryan Giggs replaced Paul Scholes. The move shifted Darren Fletcher back to the middle, Nani to the right, but also tied Bobby Charlton for most league appearances by a United player.

In the 79th minute, after 25 minutes of relatively even play, Chelsea got the match's big break. Building an attack down their left, Didier Drogba drew John O'Shea in before flicking a ball wide to Frank Lampard. The Chelsea midfielder played the ball back toward Yurik Zhirkov (who had come on earlier for Florent Malouda). Zhirkov touched the ball past Chris Smalling before trying to run past the defender's slightly outstretched left leg. When the Russian went down, Martin Atikinson pointed to the spot, awarded a penalty kick Lampard blasted into the upper 90. With just over 10 minutes to go, Chelsea had taken their first lead, 2-1.

For five minutes after the goal, Chelsea searched for a second, their best chance seeing Vidic save a Zhirkov shot off the line. Soon after, Chelsea adopted a more conservative stance, settling-in to defend their lead. By that time, Alex Ferguson had used his last substitution, with Fabio da Silva coming on for the injured Patrice Evra.

Fabio nearly had an equalizer in the 87th minute. Wayne Rooney played in the left back, but by the time da Silva cut outside a recovering José Bosingwa (on in the 81st for David Luiz), Petr Cech come out to collect the ball.

In the third minute of stoppage time, United's last hope seemed to fade as Nemanja Vidic left the pitch. Already on a yellow, Vidic pulled down Ramires to the right of the penalty area. Atkinson again brandished a card, followed it up with a red, and sent the captain to the locker room. Vidic is now set to miss Sunday's match at Liverpool.

One minute later, Atkinson blew his whistle, this time ending the match. Manchester United was handed their second loss of the season, their lead atop the league staying at four. Chelsea, with their biggest victory of the season, passes Tottenham Hotspur for fourth place, moving within 12 of United.


Chelsea FC Vs. Manchester United, Halftime: Wayne Rooney Blast Sends Red Devils In, Up 1-0

It was an even half played in parts, with Chelsea looking the better in the first and third acts. But in the middle, Manchester United asserted control of the midfield, eventually created a chance for Wayne Rooney. From well outside the Chelsea area, Rooney beat Petr Cech in the 30th minute, giving United a 1-0 lead after the first half at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United started in the same 4-4-2 we saw on Saturday at Wigan, putting Darren Fletcher out to help with Florent Malouda and Ashley Cole. Early, the deployment seemed needed, with Chelsea building its first attack down United's right. A ball from Fernando Torres was put out by Nemanja Vidic for a corner, and when Frank Lampard's resulting cross was put into the net by Torrres, Stamford Bridge let out a muted roar. Most of the crowd had heard the referee whistle a foul.

Like Chelsea, United's initial attacks went down their left. Like United, Chelsea had bolstered that side, their 4-4-2 allowing them to start Ramires in front of Ashley Cole. Nani's first attempt to crack that side saw him dispossessed in the second minute. One minute later, a run from Patrice Evra couldn't out distance Ramires, who intercepted a Nani ball. Moments later, a Nani cross was intercepted by David Luiz, who sprung the Blues on the match's first real chance, Nicolas Anelka finding Florent Malouda at the top of the box for a shot swallowed by Edwin van der Sar.

Between that chance, the disallowed goal, and two dangerous balls from the right in the seventh minute, Chelsea had the better of play at the onset. By the eighth minute, players had started to settle into the match, more space was seen in midfield, and Manchester United started to string together passes for the first time in the match. But their play was less ambitious than containing, as if to drain the energy that Chelsea had brought from the dressing room. When a Nani shot in the 10th minute gave Chelsea a scare, appearing to have been hit into John Terry's left arm (with no reasonable penalty shot), United hinted they were ready to come into the match.

But even after United started their ascension, Chelsea was still able to generate chances. In the 12th minute, an attack built down the left found Michael Essien in the arc. Had the Ghanaian not slightly overrun the pass, allowing the ball to get caught in his feet, he may have been able to get-off a better shot. His left-footed toe-poke when innocently off a United player for an innocuous corner.

By the middle of the period, United seemed to have gotten the tempo under more control. Just before the 20-minute mark, the visitors enjoyed their first real run of possession, continuing to favor Nani's flank. With Michael Essien drifting over to support from midfield and United evening numbers with either Javier Hernández or Wayne Rooney, United's build-up met congestion at the edge of the final third.

In the 21st minute, United was able to break through that side to generate their first good chance. Nani beat his man to generate a cross 18 yards from touch, a ball that met an unmarked Rooney at the near post. The United striker elevated well but a little under the ball. His attempt to turn the ball on goal ended with him shank-ing his shot over the bar.

Despite missing the shot, Rooney was still proving to be United's most important player in attack, dropping deep into midfield to help the link-up play, driving into wide areas to support the build-up. In the 24th minute, Rooney race d15 yards into his own end, close to the level of Michael Carrick, to pick up a ball, dibble it into the attack half, and play a long give-and-go with Nani, a play that was broken up by Luiz. By the 26th minute of the half, the Rooney-Luiz battle was starting to establish itself as the game's best match-up.

One minute later, Luiz was again breaking up a Manchester United attack. A bad giveaway near the center circle by John Terry allowed Wayne Rooney to break United into the Chelsea third. The ball was played wide to Fletcher who sent a cross along the top of the six. But Luiz was there to clear the ball out and to the Chelsea left, though that did not dissuade Chelsea from giving the ball right back to United. A half hour into the match, United was starting to control the midfield. Chelsea, however, was dominating their own third.

Perhaps that's why United's first goal had to come from distance, four yards above the Chelsea arc. Wayne Rooney, in possession well outside the Chelsea penalty area, took a touch or two to his right, moving the ball to above the Chelsea arc, 24 yards from goal. Pulling-up and unloading with his right foot, Rooney lined a shot to Petr Cech's right, giving Manchester United a 1-0 lead after 30 minutes.

After four minutes adjusting to the new context of the match, Chelsea resumed the same tactic with which they opened the match. Florent Malouda had been dangerous on the left side, and in the 35th minute, the left midfielder generated another near-chance, whipping a cross around both John O'Shea and Darren Fletcher, forcing Chris Smalling to put the ball out of play.

In the 40th minute, Chelsea was given another chance to test Manchester United's suspect set piece defending, their first such chance since Torres's disallowed goal. A generous foul given 25 yards from touch to the right of goal was blasted on goal by Frank Lampard. Edwin van der Sar had to lay-out to save a shot he had trouble tracking through the crowd. The rebound went up in the air and toward Branislav Ivanovic at the far post. The Serbian was unable to control his redirection, leaving Nemanja Vidic to clear a ball played off his chest.

The play seemed to energize Chelsea, who continued to threaten by building attacks down their left side. In the 46th minute, though, a turnover in midfield allowed Chelsea to break toward United's line, forcing Vidic to take down Michael Essien 25 yards out, earning a yellow card.  The resulting direct kick was put well over the ball by Ashley Cole, the last meaningful play of the first half.

While Manchester United seemed to control play in the middle of the period, Chelsea looked brighter at its onset and conclusion. With Malouda having a strong half down the left side, the Blues continuously turned United's defense. But it was Wayne Rooney's 30th minute rocket that separated the teams, United going into half up 1-0.


Chelsea FC Vs. Manchester United: Blues Starting Lineup, With Didier Drogba Again Relegated To The Bench

Chelsea may be set to use the same 4-4-2 that got them a 2-0 win last week in Copenhagen. That means Didier Drogba will again be on the bench, as will Mikel John Obi. Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka look set to start up top. Frank Lampard and Michael Essien will have to hold down central midfield.

At the back, there is one change. David Luiz, cup-tied in Champions League, is back in the team, set to start to the right of John Terry in central defense. That pushes Branislav Ivanovic to right back, with Ashley Cole completing the line in front of Petr Cech.

At the wide midfield positions, Florent Malouda will start on the left, probably playing a more advanced role than his right-sided counterpart, Ramires. With the Brazilian on the right, Chelsea will be able to mitigate the benefits Patrice Evra can provide when he pushes forward.

Chelsea, Starting XI: Cech - Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole - Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Malouda - Anelka, Torres

Bench: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Zhirkov, Mikel Ferriera, McEachran, Kalou, Drogba

Mikel was a late scratch, being replaced at the last moment by Paulo Ferriera.


Chelsea FC Vs. Manchester United: Red Devils Starting Lineup, No Changes For First Time In 165 Matches

Surprisingly, Alex Ferguson has chosen the same team that started this weekend against Wigan, the first time United has been unchanged in 165 games. That means Javier Hernández, coming off two Saturday goals, gets the call ahead of Dimitar Berbatov for today's Premier League match with Chelsea. Wayne Rooney joins up, as does Nani, who may be deployed left, if Ferguson plays as he did this weekend. Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher are all in the starting XI, with Fletcher possibly set to shade right.

At the back, John O'Shea gets the nod over Rafael da Silva, though that was expected. He'll be next to Chris Smalling, started for the injured Rio Ferdinand. Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra start at the left side of defense, in front of Edwin van der Sar.

Ryan Giggs is healthy enough to make the bench, where he's joined by Berbatov, da Silva, Fabio da Silva, Darron Gibson, Wes Brown and Tomasz Kuszczak.

Manchester United, Starting XI: van der Sar - O'Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra - Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Nani - Rooney, Hernández

Bench: Berbatov, Giggs, Gibson, Rafael da Silva, Fabio da Silva, Kusczcak

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