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Chelsea Vs United :: DRAW..!!!


United clinched a valuable point at Stamford Bridge but, having taken the lead through Ji-sung Park, could have snatched all three points were it not for slack marking from a Chelsea free-kick, allowing Salomon Kalou to grab a late equaliser.

The match followed a similar pattern to United’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool in that the Reds took the lead before the home side became the more dominant force. However, this was an infinitely better performance than the one at Anfield. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have not yet reached top form, but with players gradually returning from injury and suspension, this must seen this as a point gained and the team can kick on from here.

Sir Alex chose not to use Cristiano Ronaldo from the start, who instead settled for a place on the bench, as did Carlos Tevez, who stepped aside for Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney to occupy United’s forward roles. Owen Hargreaves and Ji-sung Park started out wide, while Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes took on central midfield duties. There was also a huge gesture of faith in the burgeoning ability of Jonny Evans, who deputised for the suspended Nemanja Vidic at centre-half alongside Rio Ferdinand.

It’s been a smooth-running start to the season for Chelsea, but Luiz Felipe Scolari had the disruption of injury to Deco during the warm-up. Michael Ballack, who scored twice against United at Stamford Bridge back in April, was promoted from the bench.

The Reds immediately took the game by the scruff of the neck. Darren Fletcher, United's top scorer this term, made one of his perfectly-timed runs into and saw his volley from Hargreaves’ cross go narrowly wide.

Rooney went close two minutes later. After Cech’s failed clearance and Berbatov’s wayward attempted lob, Rooney tried to hook the ball in but it too went just wide. But then it was Chelsea’s turn to threaten. Joe Cole got away with what appeared to be handball before hitting the side-netting with his shot from 20 yards.

United were full of attacking intent during a high-tempo start. Ferdinand hit the woodwork on 16 minutes when Rooney put him through on the right of the penalty area. Cech got a crucial touch to tip the defender’s shot onto the bar and over.

Two minutes later, however, the breakthrough United deserved arrived. A great passing interchange between Berbatov, Rooney and Patrice Evra set the Frenchman free down the left. His cut-back enabled Berbatov to force a save out of Cech, but the Chelsea keeper spilled the ball, allowing Park to poke his shot home.

As against Liverpool, the 1-0 lead was just. But, as at Anfield, the tide soon turned in the home side’s favour. Chelsea’s possession and goalscoring chances increased after half an hour. United lost Edwin van der Sar to injury after a clash with Florent Malouda in a 50-50 one-on-one. The Dutchman's replacement, Tomasz Kuszczak, was tested a few times as Chelsea pressed forward. But United held firm in a first-half full of action and incident.

Chelsea started the second half where they had finished the first 45 minutes, and Sir Alex was quick to make a change, introducing Ronaldo. Hargreaves switched to a defensive midfield role, while Ronaldo offered an outlet from the right. The home side continued to threaten more frequently than United, but there were surprisingly few chances in the second half. The best opportunity fell to Nicolas Anelka, who should have levelled on 73 minutes when Joe Cole’s cross zipped across the face of goal, but the Frenchman failed to get any significant contact on the ball and Neville cleared.

The outstanding Rooney had a good chance on 77 minutes to put United 2-0 up, but his shot from the right hit the side-netting. But just as it seemed as though Sir Alex’s men could see the match out, Chelsea’s prolonged pressure told. Poor marking from a Chelsea free-kick allowed substitute Salomon Kalou to head in the equaliser on 79 minutes. It led to a frantic last ten minutes with Chelsea in the ascendancy and United on the back foot. The Reds stood firm however and this was a performance of determination and an indication perhaps that United’s season can now finally click into gear.

Team Line-ups

Manchester United: Van der Sar (Kuszczak 32); Neville, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Fletcher, Hargreaves, Scholes (Ronaldo 55), Park (O'Shea 75); Rooney, Berbatov.
Subs not used: Brown, Giggs, Nani, Tevez.
Booked: Scholes, Ferdinand, Neville, Berbatov, Rooney, Evra, Ronaldo.

Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho (Alex 13), A.Cole; J.Cole, Ballack (Kalou 74), Mikel, Lampard, Malouda (Drogba 46); Anelka.
Subs not used: Cudicini, Belletti, Bridge, Ferreira.
Booked: Mikel


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