Javier Hernandez struck for United within sixty seconds. PA

As it happened: Manchester United v Chelsea

Hernandez and Vidic goals saw United beat Chelsea in the biggest game of the season™. Catch up with how it happened.

Manchester United need only one point from their remaining two games after a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford. Here’s how it went down.

Let us know your views in the meantime – in the usual ways; email adrian@thescore,ie; find us on Facebook or tweet away.

As they say on Sky Sports News (or The News as we call it around here): Good afternoon, sports fans!

We’re less than 30 minutes away from a much-anticipated Premier League showdown between league leaders Manchester United and their in-form rivals Chelsea.

Get the fett up and stay with us for the next couple of hours.

And I’ve just been handed a team-sheet…

The big news is that Fernando Torres is on the bench. That, my friends, is what we call a vote of confidence from Carlo Ancelotti.

Drogba starts – as most of us realised an hour ago when he bounced in the Old Trafford tunnel with a coat-hanger grin on his big face.

Here’s the rest of the Blues’ side: Cech; Ivanovic Luiz Terry Cole; Lampard Mikel Essien; Kalou Drogba Malouda.

As for United, Fergie retains but three of those second-stringers that routed Schalke in the Champions League semi-final second leg.

I’d imagine most United fans out there are happy to see the Little Pea included? Here’s the first 11 today: Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic, O Shea; Valencia, Giggs, Carrick, Park; Rooney, Hernandez -

While we here at TheScore are going through our last-minute stretches in preparation for Old Trafford, Jon Walters has put Stoke 3-1 up on Arsenal.

A minute earlier Robin van Persie had brought the Gunenrs back to within a goal.

Earlier, Mick McCarthy’s Wolves dragged themselves out of the relegation zone with an impressive 3-1 win over Black County rivals West Brom.

But in other Irish-in-England news: how the hell did Robbie miss this yesterday?

Watch it here

So what does today’s game mean? In short, almost everything.

If the Blues lose, that’s all she wrote for Carlo.

Win, however, and Chelsea will leapfrog  United to go top of the table on goal difference with two matches left to play.

They’ll then try to retain the trophy with wins over Newcastle at home and Everton away; United have Blackburn away and Blackpool at home after this afternoon.

File under lies, damn lies and statistics.From the BBC:

  • Chelsea have won the last three league matches between these sides, while United have won all three cup meetings this season (including the Community Shield).
  • Chelsea have only managed one clean sheet in their last 15 league trips to Old Trafford.
  • Referee Howard Webb has awarded penalties to Manchester United in three of the last four competitive games he has officiated at Old Trafford.

Okay Arsenal get beat, predictably, at Stoke and Sky go straight into slow-mo, guitar music montage mode.

Hell yeah! I’m gonna put my foot through the flat-screen!

We’ve been asking (bugging) you for you predictions.

Padraig Hogan on the Facebook says “‎2-1 Chelsea, Torres to get the winner”. I’ve just checked it out on one bookies wesbsite and that very confident shout is priced at: around 17-1.

You heard it here first.

The teams are in the tunnel – looking pretty focused and… tall.

We had quick interviews from both bosses. Carlo’s arching eyebrow index is at around a three or four at present.

Fergie warns there’s a ‘long day there and anything can happen’. Let’s hope so.

Sky haven’t mentioned it yet but as far as I know this is John O’Shea’s 300th start for United. Not bad, Sheasy.

GOAL! Hernandez after less than a minute!

The Little Pea hits his 20th goal after about 40 seconds. Giggs delivered a lovely ball to Park who fed the Mexican and he tucked it under Cech.

Old Trafford goes crazy altogether.

Geoff Shreeves tells us that Ancelotti is absolutely fuming at David Luiz and has told Alex to warm up. After a minute-and-a-half.

Oh my. Rooney drills a shot from well over 30 yards.

Cech has to stretch and push it behind for a corner. United are up for this one to coin a Ray Wilkins’ statement of the obvious.

Early stat from Opta: “2 – Man Utd have now joined Arsenal in scoring two Premier League goals inside the opening minute this season. Peppy.”

Hernandez might have had his 21st goal of the season there as he arrived at the back post but Luiz seemingly got a slight touch which left the Mexican kicking at their air. No corner given though.

Moments later Ivanovic is booked for a reducer on Rooney. Silly billy.

United carve out another good chance with a clinical break.

Park (who has started ‘like a house on fire’ according to Alan Smith) wins another tackle and plays some neat one-twos until Valencia cuts in from the right and offers Rooney another chance to shoot. It’s dragged wide of Cech’s post however.

Chelsea’s first real chance ends in Van der Saar making a smart save. They’ve looked shell-shocked up to that point.

Wayne Rooney is awarded a free-kick, about 35 yards out, when he’s obstructed by Ivanovic. The big defender would want to be careful.

GOAL! Vidic 23′

Vidic doubles United’s lead with a header from close-range. Giggs was again the creator as he created a yard of space on the left and put it in the danger area.

Chelsea almost pull one back however with a Kalou header of their own which VDS saves.

In between Fergie does one of his dad-at-a-wedding/John McCain dances.

Carlo looks absolutely fed up on the sideline. Understandably.

This game – and season – isn’t over yet though. Didier Drogba makes sure we realise just that with a dangerous free-kick from 30 yards out which Van der Saar has to parry away.

As star of Shameless Frank Gallagher says: Manchester knows how to throw a party.

It sounds like one at Old Trafford now with the Stretford End clipping though the terrace song-book.

We’re still a good ten minutes from half-time but the Reds fans seem to think this game – and the title – is well wrapped up.

Do you agree?

Ivanovic clips Rooney’s ankles again. Howard Webb really doesn’t want to send him aoff and has a word with captain John Terry.

For all the talk of Barcelona’s phantom-card-waving, Ryan Giggs confronts Webb, holding up four fingers. He wants a red card.

The kettle’s on for the half-time brew. The fourth official has indicated there’ll be three miutes of added time.

A few minutes ago, after he clattered David Luiz, Wayne Rooney seemed to react to Chelsea fans’ goading.

The Telegraph’s Henry Winter has a good seat: “Rooney just flicked a V at #cfc fans calling him a c***. 2-0 up, title halfway up M6 so why react? Stupid. Ivanovic having a ‘mare btw”

Here’s that second United goal. Take a bow, Nemanja Vidic.

szólj hozzá: Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea

HALF-TIME Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0 (Hernandez 1′, Vidic 23′)

Chelsea subs: Ramires on for Mikel and, predictably, Alex for Luis.

The Sky Sports punditry really is a waste of time. I should’ve used the time to finish those Rice Krispie cakes or take the bins out.

Dion Fanning read my mind:

Alex Ferguson too has mixed it up a bit with Jonny Evens replacing O’Shea.

Those Chelsea changes are pretty puzzling on reflection.

Luiz’s number seemed up from the first minute when he was caught by Hernandez and then argued with Ancelotti about his perceived culpability.

But Ivanovic is on a yellow-and-a-half and will almost certainly be dismissed.

And because Ramires has replaced Mikel, Chelsea – needing three goals to get the win they need, of course – will only be able to dispatch one of Torres, Anelka and Benayoun.

Frank Lampard gets away with a handball in the area. Old Trafford shouted as one when the England man slid in with his hand up to stop a Valencia cross.

Howard Webb didn’t look particularity interested.

Okay Fernando, this is you chance at redemption.

Ancelotti is about to make his final throw of the dice by introducing Torres. But who’ll come off?

Kalou is called ashore. Drogba and Torres have half an hour together up front to save Chelsea’s title bid.

Big appeals for a United spotter again.

Valencia lead a three v three break but was ultimately forced to go it alone when Hernandez drifts offside.

John Terry and he clash and both end up on the deck but Webb again is unmoved. Those stats/myths about the World Cup ref favouring United at Old Trafford aren’t holding up today.

GOAL! Ivanovic wins a header from a corner and Frank Lampard Jr stabs home.

He loks across to the lino to check he was on side but it counts. And how.

Game on now.

Moments later Rooney fails to wrap it up from five feet. Hernandez squared for his strike partner but the England man’s atempt was blocked on the line by Alex.

We questioned the wisdom of Carlo’s changes earlier, but would Luiz have been there?

Let’s have you prediction now – 20 minutes left.

Who said ‘stat’? From Opta: “1 – Frank Lampard’s goal is his first at Old Trafford in the Premier League since January 1999 (for West Ham). Rarity.”

United’s defenders are in the wars here.

Ferdinand and Evans both require attention after a hectic sequence of play. Rio seemed to jar his knee as he landed heavily and moments later his Northern Ireland colleague was smashed by Ramires and went to ground immediately.

Oooooh! Rooney really shou’ve made it 3-1 with one of two chances there.

First he held on to the ball too long until the chance was snuffed out but when Park – typically today – quickly won it back or him, he blazed over.

Another United chance goes begging. Hernandez is left holding his head after getting on the end of a drilled Valencia cross.

The ball spins over Cech though and Chelsea regroup. This one isn’t over quite yet.

Chris Smalling ate up a few precious seconds of injury time with a 50-yard run that ultimately ends in a mis-placed pass. Old Trafford is rocking now.

That’s it. The Sky sports director is earning his crust now.

Quick shots of an emotional Hernandez, Van der Saar gathering a huddle, Bobby Charlton applauding, Alex Ferguson doing that old-man dance again.

Sky Sports soundtrack a playoffs coverage promo with M-People’s Moving on Up. No excuse.

Giggs: “mathematically it’s not done yet but it’s a massive step. We need one point so it’s a great chance for us. We’re nearly there.”

Vidic: “We played some good football in the first half. The two goals reflect how we played. We know we had to go for the win today. I think when Chelsea attacked in the second half we defended well.”

Giggs: “It was a great start. It could have been easy to take the foot of the pedal but we knew we needed more than one goal.”

Vidic on home record: “The crowd behind us and the way we play, obviously  the wide pitch – at home we play much better than away – it’s hard to say the reason why.”

Ray Wilkins says he’s taking up yoga in the morning, given Giggs’ fitness. There’s a few Sky viewers who’d like to see him stuck in the lotus position.

One game, two perspectives:

The Scouse jury, Robbie Fowler on Twitter: “Kills me to say this but looks like they’re champions again….got to give credit were it’s due though”

Gurning uber Manc, Gary Neville on the same, aforementioned social media website:

“While we’re living the dreams we have as children fade away’ Not if you support United!”

Noel Gallagher won’t like Nev quoting Fade Away there, Ger.

Fergie: “We could have scored about six but we expected a game.

“We started really well, it was a good team performance. When we gave the ball away for their goal but the fans helped us. And Rooney could’ve scored six.

“The fans were magnificent.”

Fergie says he hopes to see Giggs back next year and ‘maybe the year after that’.

He adds: “Chicarito has exceeded expectations. He’s keen to learn and he’s beat all the challenges.”

On 19 titles? “It’s fantastic to be the most successful team in the country, the minute we opened the first one the door opened for us. It’s a great achievement.”

Ancelotti faces the cameras: “United played better than us and deserved to win. This is football.”

David Luiz substitution? “He had a problem yesterday in training, we tried this morning and he said he was okay, it’s not a problem – sometimes on the pitch you can do a mistake”

So that’s all she wrote. The lights are off at Old Trafford and it looks like the shutters have been pulled down the title race.

United have one hand on number 19, Chelsea will rebuild again one feels and now attention turns to the relegation fight. And Barcelona.