United down troubled Chelsea


Life after Jose Mourinho started in disappointing fashion for Chelsea, who lost 2-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford and had John Obi Mikel sent off.

Carlos Tevez headed his first goal for United with virtually the final act of the first half, while Louis Saha converted a late penalty.

New manager Avram Grant could not have wished for a tougher opening fixture - although Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri also played United in their first game in charge.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side have struggled recently - despite a recent run of 1-0 wins - and chose the perfect time to score two or more goals for the first time this season, producing an impressive display.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech made a string of top saves, while his opposite number Edwin van der Sar hardly had an important contribution to make.

Inevitably, Grant lined Chelsea up with Roman Abramovich's favourite Andriy Shevchenko as the focal point of his attack.

He also played Mikel, Claude Makelele and Michael Essien in a sturdy three-man midfield.

Wayne Rooney and Tevez started up front for United, the former making his first Premier League appearance since the opening day of the season.

He nearly made it a spectacular return as early as the second minute, when he turned Tal Ben Haim and curled a 25-yard shot towards the top-right corner, only to see Cech claw the ball acrobatically away.

Seconds later there were concerning moments for the home side as Rio Ferdinand went down after a challenge with Shevchenko, appearing to have suffered a groin injury.

But the England defender shrugged the stretcher-bearers aside and played the full 90 minutes alongside the superb Nemanja Vidic, who combined sterling defensive work with an ever-present aerial threat in the Chelsea box, testing Cech with a firm first-half header.

Tevez then went close with a powerful effort that Cech did well to hold, before Ryan Giggs volleyed over at the far post when a header seemed the better option.

On 32 minutes the game changed when Mikel went in hard on Patrice Evra with his foot up. It was a rash tackle but hardly deserved the straight red card referee Mike Dean showed him.

Chelsea skipper John Terry attempted to snatch the card from Dean's hand as he held it aloft - had it been anyone other than the England captain this indiscretion might have received a punishment.

The visitors stayed strong until the third minute of injury time, when Giggs collected the ball on the right and crossed exquisitely with the outside of his left foot, finding the diving Tevez's forehead a couple of yards from goal. For once, Cech had no chance.

The second half began slowly, with both sides seemingly happy with the status quo.

Although United had the bulk of the possession and territory, they created few genuine chances.

Giggs volleyed over again following a magnificent lofted through ball from Michael Carrick, while Rooney tested Cech's alertness with a long shot.

Shevchenko rarely saw 90 minutes' action under Mourinho and nothing changed in Grant's first game, as he was withdrawn for Salomon Kalou before the hour mark.

The game livened up as heavy tackles began to fly in. Joe Cole upended Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney could have seen a second yellow for a shoulder barge on Ashley Cole.

Wes Brown and Terry were also carded before Ben Haim tugged back substitute Saha in the box on 89 minutes.

The Frenchman exaggerated the contact but the foul was clumsy, and Saha just found the net, cracking his shot low down the centre.

United go second behind Arsenal while Chelsea are just sixth - sporting goal difference of minus one - and could drop another three places if West Ham, Aston Villa and Blackburn win their games in hand.
SHARE
  • Image
  • Image
  • Image
  • Image
  • Image
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment