Rooney finds the old magic to reduce Chelsea dream to ruins

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Manchester United 2 Chelsea 1 (United win 3-1 on aggregate)

Old Trafford

From his seat in the Old Trafford directors' box last night Roman Abramovich did not need his coterie of advisers and hangers-on to tell him the cold, hard truth that the best part of £750m still does not buy you what Sir Alex Ferguson has got.

And what is that? The simple answer would be a team in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the fourth time in five years but the reality is even harder for Chelsea to take. What Ferguson had last night was a team, from Javier Hernandez at 22 to Ryan Giggs at 37, that – there really is no other way of saying it – just looked better than their opponents in every department.

In Wayne Rooney, United had the game's most effective player. By the end of the game he had grown in confidence to the extent that he attempted a lob of Petr Cech from virtually the halfway line. He was not quite taking the rise out of Chelsea but it was not far off. Rooney was not the only one who sealed United's domination, there were many others too.

As John Terry trailed down the tunnel behind his team-mates, we were reminded that this was not a Chelsea team going out of the Champions League with a snarl and an angry finger jabbed in the direction of another controversy. This was a team outplayed and out-thought for the second successive year and, like every failure in Europe for this club, it is hard to believe that it will not have consequences for Carlo Ancelotti.

This was not a disastrous Chelsea performance – Didier Drogba's second-half goal gave them brief hope – but they were never really close to rescuing this tie from the 1-0 deficit of the first leg. They had their moments, but that was never going to be enough against a United team that looked from the very start like they were not to be shaken from their destiny of a place in the semi-finals against, in all likelihood, Schalke.

The big decision from Ancelotti was dropping Drogba in favour of Fernando Torres, a decision he unpicked at half-time when he substituted Torres for Drogba. There was a clear message in that decision and the message seemed to be that Ancelotti had got this one wrong. Maybe playing Drogba from the start would not have changed the outcome, but it surely would have been a better option.

Ferguson said after the game that any manager would have taken a player of Torres's calibre in January. The problem for Torres was that he walked straight on to the set of Abramovich's serial Champions League obsession and has, if anything, made things worse. It is also worth bearing in mind that when Ferguson is as generous with an opposing manager as he was with Ancelotti last night it is because he has written him off.

Either side of that Drogba goal on 77 minutes, United scored the goals that decided this tie. The first from Hernandez on 43 minutes was just reward for a dominant first half, particularly in the 30 minutes leading up to the break. The second from Park Ji-sung came 21 seconds after the re-start following Drogba's goal. It was the tap on the shoulder from United that, whatever ideas Chelsea might have, this was not to be their night.

The dismissal of Ramires with 20 minutes left came before the last two goals of the game. The second booking, for a tackle on Luis Nani from behind looked harsh. But then Terry's trip on the same player four minutes later looked more justifiably like a yellow card for the Chelsea captain, who was already on a booking.

Ramires had to take his first booking on 32 minutes to stop Nani and a United counter-attack that had swept from one box to the other. Earlier, Rooney had hit a superb cross around Michael Essien from the right side which Hernandez headed in at the near post. The Portuguese linesman called him offside, fractionally.

In the first half especially, United found generous space down Chelsea's left side. That is nominally Frank Lampard's territory but in the 4-3-3 formation that Ancelotti picked last night, Lampard gets drawn inside.

The first United goal came from that side. Rooney struck a half-cleared corner out there to Giggs who, with one touch, played the ball back to John O'Shea. He responded with a beautiful ball inside Nicolas Anelka that allowed Giggs to run at goal. Giggs picked out Hernandez with a fine ball to the back post and, from two yards, the Mexican never misses.

Logic dictates that Giggs should, at his age, have been overrun by a midfield including such athletes as Essien and Ramires but the veteran was superb, creating both United goals. Michael Carrick was again very solid. Park was bright all evening. Rio Ferdinand played through a thigh strain when it looked as if he would have to go off.

Ferdinand never had to chase Torres last night like he has in the past. In defence of the £50m man's performance, he did not have much created for him. The best chances of the first half for Chelsea came around the 15-minute mark and fell to Anelka and Lampard. Neither did much with them.

Drogba gave Chelsea purpose after the break but by then the momentum was already in one direction. At one point in the second half, not only did Rooney win a header on the halfway line against Terry but he won the sprint to the loose ball and crossed to Giggs, who should have scored with his header.

After Ramires' dismissal Chelsea hobbled on, stretched at the back but still only needing one goal to open the tie up again. It came on 77 minutes. Essien's throughball put in Drogba who scored under the body of Edwin Van der Sar. Suddenly Chelsea's 10 men needed just one more goal to win the tie. United's response was quick.

Antonio Valencia, on for Nani, started the move on the right and from Rooney the ball went to Giggs who, for the second time in the game, made the telling pass to Park. In the left channel inside the area, he scored United's second. It was a swift put-down to Chelsea's 10 men and it was a conclusion entirely in keeping with the mood of this game.



Man of the match Rooney.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee O Benquerenca (Portugal).

Attendance 75,000.



Shakhtar 0 Barcelona 1

The Ukrainians of Donetsk could not be faulted for either effort or passion last night but it was inevitable that a Lionel Messi goal should ease Barcelona into a prospective semi-final with Real Madrid after a 1-0 win for Barça yielded a 6-1 aggregate victory. It was the Argentine's 48th of the season – a Spanish record.

After 43 minutes of an absorbing first half in which Shevchuk and Luiz Adriano had both taken on the Spanish defence, Messi collected a sharp Dani Alves pass, wrongfooted two defenders and coolly slotted the ball home from 10 yards.

Barcelona's coach, Pep Guardiola, had refused to rest either Xavi or Gerard Pique, but when both were substituted after the hour Shakhtar went closest to scoring when Henrik Mkhitaryan's shot was saved by Victor Valdes.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map