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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam