Chelsea 3 Manchester Utd 0: Rooney's world caves in as Chelsea canter to crown

Mourinho resignation claims reduced to sideshow as Cole wonder goal ends United title challenge - but all the talk is about Wayne
Click to follow

If Mourinho feels understandably frustrated at not receiving sufficient credit for winning his fourth successive domestic title, imagine Sir Alex Ferguson's feelings on the way back to Manchester. United, though suffering their first defeat in a dozen games, looked a world away from offering the challenge that their manager has promised for next season. Rooney was again his best player, despite missing the clearest opportunity and committing at least three bad tackles, including the one that left Terry limping for most of the match. There was, however, no malice in the challenge by Paulo Ferreira 12 minutes from the end which could have ended his season, and may have ended his and England's World Cup hopes.

This was a comprehensive victory - for Mourinho's team, 3-0 is a cricket score - completing an extraordinary home record of 18 wins and one draw, the best in the top division for almost a century. Liverpool, the other occasionally stuttering big red machine from up north, could yet deprive United of second place, although Ferguson's side appear to have the easier finish with home games against Middlesbrough and Charlton this week.

Even if United had not dropped points at home to Sunderland on Good Friday, there would have been no more serious doubt about the destination of the title than there was last season, when Chelsea secured it at Bolton a week earlier. At that stage they were midway through the Champions' League semi-final against Liverpool, which would be lost to Luis Garcia's "ghost" goal. After defeat by Barcelona in the same competition last month, improvement next season can only come by winning the competition.

Mourinho, in other words, will be expected to win the Premiership again as a matter of course. He feels too much is taken for granted, though there will be a few belly-laughs from members of the League Managers' Association at his suggestion that "this is the worst club in the world to be manager of". Yesterday was proof of a lesson learned from the FA Cup semi-final defeat by Liverpool, even if he refused publicly to acknowledge picking the wrong team. With a single point required to retain the championship, he simply chose his best players in their most successful formation and watched them dominate the game.

Ferreira was where he belonged at right-back, with William Gallas on the other flank. Ricardo Carvalho, his future in some doubt, played alongside the ever-present Terry, and scored the third goal after sprinting from his own penalty area. The midfield had a proper shape, Arjen Robben and Joe Cole supplying the width, and the lively Didier Drogba justified starting ahead of Hernan Crespo.

Even the crucial refereeing decisions went Chelsea's way. Frank Lampard was allowed to get away with a dubious tackle to dispossess the self-indulgent Cristiano Ronaldo in the third minute. From that move, Chelsea won a corner, which Lampard flighted perfectly for Carvalho to flick on and Gallas to head in.

Ryan Giggs and John O'Shea, a midfield combination that has to be considered makeshift, never came to grips with Lampard, Michael Essien and the ever-reliable Claude Makelele. Rooney's burst through the middle after 22 minutes finished with a wayward shot, and his flicked effort some 40 minutes later, held by Petr Cech, was United's only other moment of hope. By that time, Cole had turned cleverly past Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic to beat Edwin van der Saar, effectively securing the title.

Carvalho then scored the sort of goal which Stamford Bridge - indeed the whole country - would like to see more often. Intercepting a cross 15 yards from his own goal, he raced forward to create a four-against-three, pulling wide to receive Cole's pass and hammering the ball past the goalkeeeper. The crowd went into full celebratory mode and most had the decency to offer sympathetic applause as Rooney was carried off on a stretcher, having fallen awkwardly and in intense pain as Ferreira dispossessed him.

"Chelsea deserve to win the League," Ferguson said. "But if you lose goals as soft as we have, you have to take your medicine." Rooney's will have a dreadfully bitter taste this morning.