Chelsea 0-1 Man Utd

Manchester United took a slender lead in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final with Chelsea as Wayne Rooney scored the only goal of the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

Rooney's foul-mouthed celebration after scoring a hat-trick at West Ham on Saturday may have landed him in hot water with the Football Association, but he carried on his fine form against Chelsea with an away goal for United to take back to Old Trafford for the return match next Tuesday.

The crucial moment arrived midway through the first half when Ryan Giggs superbly controlled a long pass from Michael Carrick and cut the ball back for Rooney to slide home a composed finish that went in off the post.

Chelsea almost equalised on the stroke of half-time as Fernando Torres guided an effort against the post and Frank Lampard's volley on the rebound was cleared off the line by Patrice Evra.

Torres went close again in the second half but still could not open his account for the Blues as Edwin van der Sar pulled off a magnificent acrobatic save to claw out his well-placed header.

United had to withstand spells of Chelsea pressure, particularly in the closing stages, when confident penalty appeals for a foul on Ramires by Evra were waved away, but were largely comfortable in keeping them at bay and occasionally threatened on the counter-attack.

Chelsea will nevertheless travel to Manchester with the tie still in the balance. Indeed, a repeat of the 2-1 success on their last trip to Old Trafford 12 months ago will be enough to send them through.

However, they will have to do far better in front of goal - and 50million man Torres in particular must start scoring after yet another ineffective display ended with an injury-time yellow card for diving.

At Upton Park on Saturday, Rooney completed his hat-trick, then headed straight towards a TV camera to deliver his ill-advised reaction that threatens his place in the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City.

As his first-time effort caressed the base of Petr Cech's left-hand post and rolled gently into the back of the Chelsea net, he again ran towards the lens.

This time, he stopped short, slid to his knees and waited to be mobbed by ecstatic team-mates.

They had every right too, especially Giggs given his outrageous contribution. Now 37, Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed the veteran Welshman could go on for a couple of years yet.

How the United boss must hope that is true. Having watched Michael Carrick deliver a pinpoint crossfield pass that was sensational in itself, Ferguson could only sit back and admire Giggs' sublime first touch, which took him careering past the stranded Jose Bosingwa, and the coolness of his second, which left Rooney with a tap-in.

Cue delirium amongst the United contingent, satisfaction for Rooney and the precious away goal Ferguson had demanded.

Carlo Ancelotti could only urge his team - who had started the brighter - into some kind of response.

It should have come in the final minute of that opening period as Didier Drogba went for goal from an acute angle but his shot lacked power.

Torres closed in, yet somehow could not make a meaningful connection on the ball from a central position on the edge of the six-yard area.

As the ball bounced back off the post, Lampard went to tap home, only for Evra to clear off the line.

Given Saturday's draw at Stoke and Inter Milan's stunning demise to Schalke on Tuesday, it is hardly overestimating the situation to say Carlo Ancelotti's job hangs on reaching the final, and for that Torres needs to do what Roman Abramovich paid all that money for.

United suffered a hammer blow within minutes of the restart when Rafael went down after a seemingly innocuous tangle with Drogba.

The young Brazilian bravely tried to continue but the pain in his left knee made it impossible, the stretcher carrying him away for what looks like a lengthy period.

Ferguson's response was typical. With no obvious right-back replacement, instead of introducing a defender, in Chris Smalling or Jonny Evans, he went for Nani, asking Antonio Valencia to plug the gap.

Chelsea were able to get up a head of steam though, with Ramires wasting an excellent chance when he glanced Drogba's effort wide of the far post and the Ivorian himself not too far away with a speculative overhead kick.

United's defence - which has not conceded an away goal in this competition this season - held firm and came agonisingly close to grabbing a second when Nani drilled a cross to the far post that would have allowed Javier Hernandez to head into an empty net had Cech not gambled in a desperate attempt to claw the ball away from the Mexican.

The departure of Drogba for Nicolas Anelka 20 minutes from time placed even more weight on Torres' shoulders just after Michael Essien had gone close for the hosts.

And the Liverpool man so nearly responded when he rose to meet Jose Bosingwa's far-post cross and sent a header curling towards the corner that Van der Sar, troubled by a groin problem, was at full stretch to claw away.

United then breathed a sigh of relief in stoppage time when Evra sent Ramires tumbling but referee Alberto Mallenco failed to award what seemed to be a clear penalty.

There was still time for a Torres yellow card for diving under Valencia's challenge, ending yet another unhappy night for the Spain star.

Source: Sky Sports
Date Published: 6 April 2011

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I thought Carrick was excellent - can't remember the last time I've said that, if ever! Committed in the tackle and what a ball that was to play Giggsy in for the goal. More of that please!

- Jonesy

Great performance. Yes we rode our luck at times but you need to do that in big games, they are rarely easy wins. Have taken a punt and booked flights for Schalke while they were cheap.

- Oli

I know over the years he's done some stupid stuff, but for me Rio is the best defender i've seen at the club. He was immense tonight, and the way he just slots in after being out for so long is a credit to his (new-found) professionalism. With him, Vidic and VDS we have a great chance in all 3 remaining competitions. Its a fantastic scoreline to take back to OT, but the tie still isnt over and the players and fans will have to be at their best next Tuesday if we're to go through without a scare. You can never write off a team that has Lampard, Anelka, Drogba and Torres on its books. Still, it couldnt have gone much better tonight.

- twoc2002

Great game, we were lucky at the end but we will take the win.

- Minnesota Berbatov

Iv never been so happy to be wrong about everything! Great result Rio was excellent and Carrick had one of his best games in a long time. Roll on next Tuesday!

- Munsterman

I'm not feeling too confident about this one. Hopefully we can get a goal and take something back to Old Trafford for the second leg but i can see them winning tonight. Hopefully Smalling starts i don't think it would be a good idea throwing Rio straight back in.

- Munsterman

I'm pretty confident that we can win at the Bridge. Especially as we should have a decent referee for a change (I hope!) 3 consecutive matches agaisnt the rentboys have been settled by poor refereeing decisions. 2-1 to the Reds wouldn't surprise me in the least. If the back four can stay focused and keep it together, we'll be fine. We can score on anyone.

- Darren

Not sure why but I can actually see us coming away with a win from Stamford Bridge. 2-1 or 1-0 to United with a late goal would be great. I'd settle for a draw though or even a defeat by the odd goal as long as we get the away goal.

- Dave

We're at that time of the season when I start to get nervous more than 24 hours before kick off... butterflies in the stomach all day today. Fergie has hinted that we will go with an attacking line-up to try and notch up some away goals. Hopefully that means something like: ------------ VDS Rafael Smalling Vidic Evra Valencia Scholes Carrick Nani -------- Rooney Hernandez Although I'd want to squeeze Berbatov in there somewhere I think Hernandez' pace is vital, especially as Luiz is cup-tied. I can see goals at both ends. So long as we keep our heads (no silly cards) we should be able to come away in the driving seat, although Vidic will need to have a better game than he did at Upton Park.

- fenwar