Chelsea 5-4 Manchester United
Chelsea XI: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Bertrand, Mikel, Romeu, Moses, Mata, Piazon, Sturridge. Subs: Ramires, Oscar, Hazard.
Man Utd XI (w/ratings): Lindegaard 6, Rafael 7, Wootton 5, M. Keane 7, Buttner 5, Nani 5, Fletcher 6, Anderson 8, Giggs 7, Welbeck 5, Hernandez 7. Subs: Powell 6, Tunnicliffe 6, Macheda 6.
An enjoyable game at Stamford Bridge unfortunately ended with Manchester United on the wrong side of the result and knocked out of the Capital One Cup. Despite that, fans and players alike could leave Stamford Bridge proud of the performance. A largely 2nd string XI pushed a Chelsea team boasting many first team players including the magical trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar to the end in a closely faught affair, a match that was taken to extra time with a penalty in the dying seconds of injury time.
Manchester United initially took the lead after Oriol Romeu was dispossessed following Petr Cech’s goal kick. Anderson snatched the ball which fell for Ryan Giggs who tucked the ball away in the bottom corner. Chelsea drew level through a David Luiz Penalty, given away by a mistimed challenge in the box by Alex Buttner on Victor Moses. Manchester United then took the lead once more after a delicious ball by Anderson into striker Javier Hernandez’s path who went through on goal and duly scored. Chelsea once again equalized through Gary Cahill who headed in a corner which crossed the line despite Rafael’s best efforts to clear.
Manchester United then re-gained the lead with a terrific goal by Nani after an excellent one-two with Anderson, Anderson’s 3rd and final assist of the night. Sadly some lazy defending in the dying embers of the game by Scott Wootton gifted Chelsea a penalty which was then put away by Eden Hazard to take the game into injury time. 7 minutes into the 1st half of extra time Danny Sturridge scored to take the lead after a mistake by Scott Wootton which was then followed by a Ramires goal after a nice counter attack from Chelsea. Manchester United then won a penalty when Javier Hernandez was fouled which Ryan Giggs stepped up to score what turned out to be just a consolation goal.
When the teamsheets were announced pre-match, the differences in experience between the two sides were striking. Manchester United started with 2 reserve centre backs, both of whom have less than 5 first team appearances for the club, who would initially have to deal with the threat of Moses, Mata and Sturridge then eventually Oscar and Hazard too. Playing against such talent was always going to be a big test for the two lads and up until the lapse by Scott Wootton in injury time both players had a solid game. I was especially pleased by Michael Keane’s performance tonight. Most things he did with ease and he was also quite composed on the ball. It was a confident performance from the young lad. Man Utd’s other centre back Scott Wootton also put in a good performance however his 2 mistakes cost Man Utd 2 goals.
I chose to elect Anderson as Manchester United’s man of the match. He played with drive, purpose and covered a lot of ground. Anderson also assisted all 3 of Man Utd’s goals in normal time before he was substituted for Ryan Tunnicliffe. The only disappointing thing about the Brazillian’s performance was his inability to last the full 90 minutes. Anderson began to tire at about the hour mark and his fitness is evidently still not up to standards. Regardless, his recent surge in form seems promising. Also at centre mid it was nice to see youngsters Powell and Tunnicliffe get minutes. Both played pretty well and were efficient in possession. Tunnicliffe’s lovely ball to Hernandez resulted in the Mexican being brought down to win the penalty. He also made some nice blocks.
Other notable mentions should go out to Rafael, Giggs and Hernandez. Each of them put in good performances for the club. Rafael continued his recent consistent run of form and is looking like the player we had hoped he would become when he joined Man Utd as an 18 year old. It would seem that he has cemented the right back position as his own, demonstrated by himself being the only survivor from our league victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Ryan Giggs continued to defy his age, at almost 39 years of age he passed efficiently and was generally dominant in the centre of Man Utd’s midfield. Claims that the Welshman may be past it seemed way off the mark. Javier Hernandez too played well. Scored a goal, held up the ball well to bring others into play and did everything a lone frontman has to. Noticeably his all round game appears to have improved somewhat.
Nani, despite his goal, was disappointing tonight. In the first half he wasn’t involved that much and when he was he didn’t particularly look that interested. He eventually got involved more and in extra time he was more or less trying to win the game on his own. The hunger seems to have gone. He was as frustrating as ever, dwelling on the ball for too long, spending too much time deciding what to do, and the manager went as far as almost blaming the defeat on the Portuguese as he could’ve ran the ball into the corner flag but decided to attempt to beat a player and lose the ball resulting in a penalty at the other end of the pitch just seconds later. In the past I’ve been one to defend Nani but I do think his tenure at Old Trafford may be coming to an end. Speculation that he wants £130,000 a week seems unreasonable when you consider that he is no longer playing a key role in the team.
Javier Hernandez scores against Chelsea