Five reasons United were finally able to end their barren Bridge run

Chelsea's over-reliance on Torres, winning the midfield battle, experience and desire all helped United's cause


1. Chelsea's over-reliance on Torres

Carlo Ancelotti picked his £50m striker Fernando Torres, apparently for the sole reason that Roman Abramovich has not spent a fortune to watch him warming his backside on the substitutes' bench.

Nicolas Anelka, with seven goals in the Champions League, would have been a more logical option on purely footballing grounds. Torres showed a far greater hunger for the ball than he has done in recent games, perhaps encouraged by the sight of his favourite defender Nemanja Vidic in the opposition.

But having changed the whole balance and shape of his team to accommodate Torres, Ancelotti desperately needs the Spaniard to start scoring. It almost came with a header in the 71st minute, but Edwin van der Sar pulled off a fine save. The clock now stands at 617 minutes for Torres at Chelsea without a goal.

Torres did at least look sharp, playing a slightly deeper role behind Didier Drogba. However his influence paled in comparison to the colossal impact of Wayne Rooney for Manchester United.

Ancelotti further put his faith in the struggling Spaniard when he took off Drogba for Anelka, even though the Ivorian had been getting the better of Patrice Evra.



2. Carrick won battle with Lampard

The midfield contest between Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick, two graduates of the West Ham academy, was one of the more compelling sub-plots being played out last night.

Great things were expected of both of them when they left the East End, but only Lampard can truly be said to have fulfilled his potential. Their international records tell their own story. Lampard, 32, made his England debut in 1999, and has gone on to win 85 caps; Carrick, 29, made his debut in 2001, and has so far managed just 22.

Carrick has moments when he looks like a world-class performer; the problem is those are too few and far between. Lampard in contrast has been the very definition of consistency for the past decade. The honours however went to Carrick in last night's contest.

He was excellent throughout, his highlight being the magnificent 50-yard pass to Ryan Giggs to set up Rooney's goal. Lampard, in his 500th game for Chelsea, was below his best, and missed a simple chance from three yards when he mishit his shot and allowed Evra to clear off the line.



3. Valencia's return gives United more firepower in attack

Antonio Valencia earned his place in last night's starting XI ahead of Nani with his influential display in Saturday's victory at West Ham. The Ecuador international's return after suffering a badly injured ankle has been a timely one for Sir Alex Ferguson, who has singled out Valencia for praise in recent weeks.

He started on the right of midfield, and was immediately in the action, challenging Ashley Cole straight from kick-off. Valencia's desire to get to the byline kept Chelsea on their toes, and made him a far more threatening presence than his opposite number Ramires, whose primary role is containment. When Rafael da Silva went off early in the second half following a heavy challenge by Drogba, it was Valencia who dropped back to right-back to cover, allowing Nani to fill the space in front of him.



4. Ferdinand has plenty in the tank

It was like he had never been away as Rio Ferdinand took his place in United's back four. Making his first appearance since picking up a calf injury warming up before the game against Wolves in February, Ferdinand slipped straight back into the side without the hint of a wobble.

His composure in face of some concerted Chelsea pressure was one of the reasons United won at Stamford Bridge for the first time in nine years to take a decisive advantage in this quarter-final.

Whether it was the swift feet of Torres or the muscular brawn of Drogba, Ferdinand smothered the danger with his customary cool.



5. United have the experience to complement their desire

Both managers talked of their respective team's desire to win the Champions League before this tie, and that was clear on the pitch. United have the experience of having been there and done it before. Victory in the penalty shoot-out in Moscow in 2008 gives them a psychological edge.

As the clock wore down, there was a greater desperation about Chelsea's play. They were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in stoppage time when Evra brought down Ramires, but overall United showed greater quality and composure in the key moments of the game.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'