On Tuesday night, Real Madrid and Schalke all but secured their semi-final places and with Barcelona clear favourites in their quarter-final match at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, all eyes were on Stamford Bridge and what was expected to be a tight game between Chelsea and Man United. The questions on everyones minds were " How wouuld Rooney react after being charged by the F.A for improper conduct? " and " would Fernando Torres finally show the Chelsea faithful why he was worth the fifty million that the club had spent on him? "
United were bolstered by the return of Rio Ferdinand at the back along side Vidic and Javier Hernandez once again kept the premier leagues top goal scorer Dimitar Berbatov out of the starting eleven. Chelsea were without influential new siging David Luiz who was cup tied for this fixture which meant a start for Jose Bosingwa while Fernando Torres partnered Didier Drogba up front. Chelsea fans were hoping that Torres could continue his good form against Nemanja Vidic as he looked for his first goal in a Chelsea shirt.
Surprisingly both teams started by throwing caution to the wind and looking to gain an early advantage in this fixture. This lead to a very open game with both teams making uncharacteristic mistakes and with very few clear chances on goal. Didier Drogba tested United goalkeeper Van der sar on twenty minutes with a rasping shot but the Dutchman was on hand to tip it over the bar. However it was United who hit the back of the net on twenty four minutes when Micheal Carrick swept a superb cross field ball to Giggs who read the flight of the ball perfectly. Giggs excellent first touch brought him past Bosingwa with ease and all that was left to do then was pick out the unmarked Rooney in the center of the box who neatly side footed the ball past Cech. Chelsea fought back hard and looked to Torres but despite some good work down the wings he could not get himself a clear oppurtunity inside the area. United came close once again when Rooney crossed the ball for Hernandez but he was unable to make contact with the ball as it flew agonisingly just over his head. Chelsea nearly had the ball in the net just before half time, Drogba this time came in from the left and crossed for Torres who failed to make contact with the ball but the bounce decieved Van der sar and hit the post. Lampard managed to flick the rebound towards the goal but Patrice Evra was there to clear the ball off the line and keep Uniteds lead intact going in at half time.
Early in the second half Rafael seemed to injure himself when he clashed with Drogba. The bigger man came out on top of the collision and although Rafael managed to play on it was short lived as he had to be strechered off a few minutes later. A slip from evra allowed drogba to cross for Ramieres but the Brazilian headed the ball well wide. Nani then came on for the injured Rafael and Valencia deputised at right back. United were now playing with four wingers on the pitch. United did have the ball in the net once again on fifty five minutes when some good play between Rooney and Hernandez put Rooney through to score but the goal was correctly ruled offside by the linesman and dissallowed. On fifty seven minutes Drogba made the best of poor cross by Lampard, flicking up for himself and attempting an overhead volley which went wide . Chelsea seemed to be turning up the pressure on United having more of the possession and were constantly on the attack. Nani managed to hit Chelsea on the break after some good play by Carrick but his cross was excellently palmed away by Cech when it seemed Hernandez would score. Chelsea had control of the game now with United not threatening going forward and content to defend a one goal lead. Van der sar pulled off what might just be "save of the season" after Bosingwa crossed the ball for Torres who headed the ball back across the goal. Van der sar went full stretch to get his fingertips to the ball and keep it out. Chelsea will feel agrieved that they didnt get a penalty when Evra clearly fouled Ramires inside the area when he was straight through on goal but the referee waved play on .The Frenchman was very lucky to get away with it and stay on the pitch. Chelsea had another penalty claim in injury time when Valencia tackled Torres but the it was clear that Torres had dived and was awarded a yellow card for his troubles.
United are now in the driving seat after the first leg and will be confident that they can hold Chelsea at bay and progress to the semi-final which will most likely be against Schalke however Chelsea will not be daunted by the task ahead of them and will want revenge for the 2008 final that United won on penalties.It will no doubt be the closest of the quarter-finals and should be very entertaining.
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