LUIS NANI’S BALL-WATCHING and an overly prudent Turkish referee blemished Manchester United’s week. Could Chelsea go a step forward and ruin it?
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Man Utd 2-2 Chelsea
16:24 – 16.24 – Good afternoon. We will kick off with the teams:
Man Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Nani, Kagawa, Rooney, Hernandez.
Subs: Amos, Valencia, Anderson, Vidic, Young, Welbeck, van Persie.
Wayne Rooney and Little Pea Hernandez lead the line for United while Evans comes in for Vidic. Fernando Torres is bench-sitting while Demba Ba gets the attacking nod for Chelsea.
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Moses, Mata, Oscar, Ba.
Subs: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Torres, Mikel, Hazard, Terry, Bertrand.
16:31 – 16.31 – Big game for Wayne Rooney after his time on the bench on Tuesday. Will he score for United today?
16:33 – 16.33 – KICK-OFF
Ba and Ferdinand tussle early and the Chelsea striker drags a shot wide but the whistle had already blown. Yes, Howard Webb is the man in black today.
16:36 – 16.36 –
16:36 – 16.36 – Nani on the pitch too as United are neat and tidy in possession. Rooney rambling into midfield on a few occasions in the opening minutes as Hernandez occupies the Chelsea defenders.
GOAL: (Hernandez ’4) Man Utd 1-0 Chelsea
Hernandez lobs Cech to score. Great reverse pass/chip by Carrick and the Mexican lofts a header over a stranded Cech.
16:39 – 16.39 – I do not often give Michael Carrick praise but that pass was superb. It took the Chelsea backline and Czech Cech by complete surprise. Rafa is up on his feet and barking orders from the touchline.
16:43 – 16.43 – GOAL: (Rooney ’11) Man Utd 2-0 Chelsea
Victor Moses chops down Nani to snuff out a dangerous break. The offence is just outside the Chelsea box. Rooney whips it in and it does not get a touch despite the best efforts of Evans and bounces in the six yard box before rippling the net.
16:53 – 16.53 – Chelsea get the ball for a change and string some possession and half-chances together. Evans does well to block a Moses shot before setting up a United attack and Hernandez almost latches onto a 30-yard one-two.
16:58 – 16.58 – Almost 3-0 as Hernandez gets to a cross cross first, ahead of Azpilicueta, and just flicks over. Evra then slides a cross over, Rooney connects with a side-foot that Cech saves. It ricochets to Luiz but his header is awful and Cech needs to be at full stretch to claw it away for a corner.
16:59 – 16.59 – Here is the game’s opener from ‘Little Pea’:
YouTube credit: MultiSoccerFootball6
17:01 – 17.01 – Ba gets Chelsea’s first shot on target but his 30-yard effort is along the grass and De Gea gets comfortably behind it.
17:05 – 17.05 – Ferdinand is looking determined in defence today and he makes a brave, headed clearance. United are controlling the tempo – the Kagawa, Carrick and Cleverley combination is looking at ease.
17:11 – 17.11 – Nice work out on the right from Mata, he finds Moses. The Nigerian shows good footwork to step inside Ferdinand but his shot is sliced left and way wide.
Dea Gea does just enough to prevent Ba from stooping to head in a Chelsea goal inside the six yard box.
17:15 – 17.15 – United are close again inside the Chelsea box but Cleverley and Kagawa do the defending for the Blues and pass it out of the box. The chance is lost. Ferdinand cleans up at the back as Chelsea’s break comes to nothing.
17:16 – 17.16 – Here, in sepia glory, is Wayne Rooney’s free kick goal:
YouTube credit: goalhighlightsHD
17:19 – 17.19 – Nani goes off just before half-time with an injury and Antonio Valencia is on. Rooney tries his now patented curling, cheeky lob from the edge of the box [see: David James grinning in shameful appreciation] but his effort is a yard too high.
17:21 – 17.21 – HALF-TIME
17:28 – 17.28 – “If you’re going to go out of the cup today, you might as well make your mark on the tie,” says Roy Keane in the ITV studio as Lee Dixon laments the presence of John Terry on the Chelsea bench.
17:35 – 17.35 – KICK-OFF – We are underway again at O.T
17:39 – 17.39 – United pressing and on the hunt for the killer third goal. Cech does not help matters by going walkabout outside his box. Cleverley then charges into the box but Ivanovic hacks clear.
17:42 – 17.42 – Ramires with a good run, lacing by Evans, but his finish is skewed, weak and wide. Mikel replaces Lampard and Hazard is on for Moses.
Wayne enjoyed scoring his free kick. (Martin Rickett/PA Wire)
17:45 – 17.45 – Rafael and Valencia combine to expose Cole up the right before Luiz earns a deserved yellow for a premeditated and sloppy sliding challenge on the United rightback.
17:49 – 17.49 – Cleverley does well to slide in and prevent Mikel from striking a shot on the edge of the box. Luiz then causes a De Gea flap before Chelsea come back at the Reds.
GOAL: (Hazard ’58) Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea
Beauty from Eden Hazard, hardly any backlift as he curls one in from the edge of the box with Rafael a bystander.
17:52 – 17.52 – Here comes Robin van Persie as Hernandez is told to ‘hit the showers kid’ by Mikey Phelan. 28 minutes to play.
17:58 – 17.58 – Some relief for United as Evra brings the ball deep into the Chelsea half. Kagawa and Valencia combine but cannot fashion a chance.
GOAL: (Ramires ’67) Man Utd 2-2 Chelsea
Luiz interception, Chelsea pile forward. 4-on-4 but Ramires is one on one with Ferdinand, who he easily deals with. Cuts inside and curls home. We are level.
18:00 – 18.00 – Rio was turned far too easily by Ramires there. Chelsea fans in good voice now. Here is Hazard’s goal:
YouTube credit: OzzyRonaldoTV
18:03 – 18.03 – Sarcastic appeals for a Hazard red card as he leaves a high foot in to clip the head of Rafael. Where was the Belgians’ spacial awareness?!
18:06 – 18.06 – Kagawa off and Welbeck on as Rooney lines up another free, 35 yards out, and Hazard absorbs a booking. Luiz heads away but it is weak, it falls to van Persie but his drive is deflected for a corner. Valencia, Carrick and Cleverley all attempt long-range efforts in the space of 10 frantic seconds but the danger passes.
18:12 – 18.12 – Mata has twisted his ankle slightly but looks ok to play on.
After watching the replay, I did a disservice to Rio. It was Evans that was stumped by Ramires. Neat goal this:
YouTube credit: ManchesterUnitedVK
18:15 – 18.15 – Mata is back on and hits the target but it is easy for De Gea. Five minutes to go. Torres is on for Ba too.
18:18 – 18.18 – Poor Valencia cross and no late drama to speak of. Andy Townsend has awarded the man of the match to Juan Mata. He has also made a lazy assessment of how well Luiz has played to discount any semblance of credibility. Luiz has been very poor at his primary job today – defending.
18:21 – 18.21 – WONDER SAVE! Dea Gea denies a certain Mata goal from close range with an outstretched leg moments after Ferdinand was lost under a chipped ball into the box. One of the best saves you’ll see all season [if we track down a video or you see news/highlights].
18:24 – 18.24 – Carrick gulps out of a volleyed shot on goal and his haphazard header is cleared, causing Chelsea to stream forward, Torres can be the hero but De Gea saves.
The Spaniard then parries a Mata drive but it rebounds into the danger-zone. Evra blocks Cole.
18:25 – 18.25 – Last chance falls to Hazard at the edge of the box. His shot comes through a host of bodies but De Gea gets behind it.
18:28 – 18.28 – United were in complete control after 45 minutes but never pushed on with conviction. Two fine goals drew Chelsea level and there would not have been many arguments if the Londoners had nicked it.
18:31 – 18.31 – Mata pays credit to David de Gea for his fine save near the death as Roy Keane pulls out some ‘game of two halves’ punditry.
18:34 – 18.34 – Stay with us for post-match reaction, reports and news of the FA Cup semi-final draw. I’m off to hunt down a clip of De Gea’s stunning stop.
18:40 – 18.40 – FA CUP DRAW:
Millwall or Blackburn v. Wigan
Manchester United or Chelsea v Manchester City