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Manchester United defeat Chelsea to progress to the Champions League Semi Finals

 match reportManchester United 2 - 1 Chelsea

Manchester United booked their place in the Champions League Semi Finals for the fourth time in five years after winning the quarter final return leg against Chelsea 2-1, and the tie 3-1 on aggregate. Javier Hernandez gave the hosts the lead two minutes before half time while Park Ji Sung nullified Didier Drogba’s equaliser in the second half.

 

Sir Alex Ferguson lined up with an attacking team, with Rooney playing in the space between the central midfield composed of Carrick and Giggs and the attack led by Javier Hernandez. Nani was preferred to Antonio Valencia, while Park shifted to the right wing. At the back, O’Shea replaced Rafael.


Manchester United started the match strongly, clearly looking to build on their win at Stamford Bridge in the first leg and to put the tie out of Chelsea’s reach. Early into the match, Cech had to remain on his guards to avoid being lobbed by Rooney, while Giggs saw an effort deflected wide. The only worry for the red devils was that Rio Ferdinand was limping around at the back, having injured himself in a scuttle with Van der Sar. Chris Smalling was sent to warm up, but Ferdinand was determined to stay on.

 

Perhaps feeling that Man United were vulnerable at the back, as Ferdinand was clearly defending on one foot, Chelsea began to press forward. Anelka should have hit the target after Fernando Torres, preferred in attack to Didier Drogba, set him up. Seconds later, they came charging again, with Florent Malouda threading his way around Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, before passing the ball to Lampard, but the English midfielder could not put enough power in his shot and the chance was wasted.

 

Javier Hernandez thought he had given Manchester United the lead after 27 minutes when he headed in a wonderful cross from the in-form Wayne Rooney, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

 

Man United survived another scare at the back when Van der Sar came off his line and out of the box in an attempt to dispossess Nicolas Anelka who was charging down the right wing. The Dutch goalkeeper stripped the ball away from Anelka with two tackles that even Vidic would have been proud of, much to the delight of Old Trafford.

 

The fans had even more reasons to be happy two minutes before half time as the home team finally took the lead. Michael Carrick, once again outstanding in midfield, reacted quickly to a Malouda clearance and passed the ball to Rooney, who in turn noticed Giggs and sprayed the ball to the right. The No. 11’s first touch was magical, and he calmly placed the ball across the goal after a superb one-two with John O’Shea. Hernandez timed his run perfectly and latched onto Giggs’s pass to send the ball into roof of the net.

 

Fernando Torres was substituted at half time and Didier Drogba came on for the final 45 minutes. Although Man United kept creating chances on counter attacks, Chelsea looked more threatening. On the hour mark, Van der Sar had to tip Drogba’s attempt from a freekick past the right post in order to maintain Man United’s advantage.

 

It seemed as though the red devils would see the remainder of the evening off quietly when Ramires was sent off for a second yellow card for another challenge on Nani in the 70th minute. However, the Chelsea players didn’t lose faith at this turn of events, and in the 77th minute, Drogba controlled a Michael Essien pass with his chest before turning and drilling a shot past United’s goalkeeper to make it 1-1 on the evening.

 

From there on it could have been a nervy affair for Manchester United, who were playing their 50th game of their season. It was not to be though, as 21 seconds later the red devils had already restored their lead. From the centre of the field, Rooney sprayed yet another splendid pass to Giggs who from the right side of Chelsea’s penalty area lifted a short pass to the left. Alone at the far post, Park controlled before latching onto the ball with his left foot to beat Petr Cech.

 

Chelsea seemed a bit stunned at being pegged back almost immediately after having equalized and it somewhat took the wind of out their sails. Man United controlled the game for the last minutes and Old Trafford erupted into a huge cheer at the final whistle as the fans celebrated a likely encounter with Schalke in the semi finals of Europe’s most prestigious competition.

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