Chelsea 5 Manchester United 4; aet: match report
Another day, another cup classic. The Capital One Cup has suddenly become the one for entertainment. A match that could have become mired down in the tension that followed the sides’ Premier League meeting on Sunday simply blossomed into a terrific flowing game.
Assisted by Anderson delivering one of his best displays for 80 minutes, Manchester United had seemed in control, heading towards victory with seconds of normal time left when Nani erred, gifting the ball to Chelsea when he should have been keeping the ball, not risking it.
It was the key moment, the chance for the hosts to equalise and force extra time when they finally took a lead they were not to relinquish. It was just the type of laxness in possession that frustrated United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Other errors crept into United’s play. Scott Wootton, United’s 21-year-old centre-half, had performed well for 80 minutes until a couple of costly mistakes betrayed his inexperience.
United’s other callow centre-back, Michael Keane, could easily have been dismissed late on. Yet Ferguson can hardly be criticised for giving youth a chance in the fourth competition on his list of priorities.
It is the United way, the Ferguson way, the manager knowing how important it was for youngsters to believe there was a route into the first team.
Wootton and Keane will be better players for the experience, however chastening. It also needs emphasising that United’s youngsters faced a strong Chelsea side, a starting XI containing the likes of Juan Mata, John Obi Mikel and Petr Cech that was further strengthened with the arrival from the bench of Ramires, Oscar and Eden Hazard. Some of Hazard’s control and passing was an absolute joy to behold.
Victor Moses signalled his promise with a series of direct, penetrative runs. Also delighting Roberto Di Matteo was the resilience shown by his players.
As if the match did not contain enough drama, there was a pitch invader, a couple of fireworks and relentless chants by 6,000 United fans in support of the referee Mark Clattenburg. Two hours before kick-off, Chelsea had announced that they had formally lodged a complaint with the Football Association, alleging that Clattenburg had made a remark of a racist nature to Mikel.
“Justice for Clattenburg”, came the chant from the away section, filling the length of the Shed. The visiting hordes had some other chants, including a fairly toxic one for the watching John Terry, who was supported by those in the Matthew Harding Upper with their familiar banner of “JT Captain, Leader, Legend”. United followers unfurled a banner of their own, declaring “Clattenburg: Referee, Leader, Legend”.
The football soon dominated the attention. Cech denied Nani and Danny Welbeck but then stroked his goal-kick straight out to Oriol Romeu, always a dangerous move as United had been pressing hard, fast and high. Anderson was swiftly on to Romeu, nicking the ball into the path of Ryan Giggs.
Cech hurriedly tried to scramble across, but Giggs was moving with clinical intent, his second touch arrowing the ball between the despairing Cech and the keeper’s right-hand upright.
A United mistake let Chelsea back in. When Alexander Buttner brought down Moses, David Luiz dispatched the penalty. Chelsea fans were then treated to the bad side of Luiz, the careless side. He lost the ball in midfield, allowing Anderson to release Javier Hernández, who placed his shot unerringly past Cech. Roman Abramovich and his friend Andrei Shevchenko looked at each other in frustration.
The game continued to see-saw. Chelsea levelled early in the second half when Gary Cahill powered in a header from a Mata corner.
United hit back, regaining the lead with a magnificent goal. Hernández was lurking around the box but eventually turned away and found Nani.
Oft criticised for his final ball, Nani was magnificent here, moving in a blur through blue shirts, exchanging passes with Anderson before dinking the ball past Cech. “Time to blame the referee,” chanted the United fans.
The home supporters were then up in arms when Mata’s cross hit Michael Keane’s hand. Chelsea fans then sighed as Anders Lindegaard thwarted Daniel Sturridge and Oscar.
Chelsea’s pressure finally told when Ramires attempted to wriggle through and was fouled by Wootton. Hazard made no mistake from the spot, sending the game into extra time.
Wootton blundered again eight minutes later, his ill-considered attempt at a header back to Lindegaard allowing Sturridge the chance to run through and make it 4-3 to Chelsea. Nani and Oscar then squared up, hardly a battle of the heavyweights, before a touch of controversy invaded proceedings.
Keane fouled Sturridge as he went through, bringing baying calls for his expulsion. Even Branislav Ivanovic, sitting behind the Chelsea dugout, was out of his seat, waving an imaginary card. From the free-kick, Luiz almost snapped the bar. Some magic from Hazard then sent Ramires through and around Lindegaard to make it 5-3.
There was still time for a Giggs penalty after Cesar Azpilicueta had fouled Hernández but Chelsea comfortably saw out the final two minutes. As if the game had not conjured up enough drama, the quarter-final draw within half an hour of the final whistle then sent Chelsea to Leeds United, to the club they often rucked with in the Seventies.
The 1970 FA Cup final replay embodied much of the rivalry with Chopper Harris against Eddie Gray, Eddie McCreadie against Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton against Peter Osgood and Norman Hunter versus Ian Hutchinson.
Amongst other duels.
On and off the pitch, it promises to be a tense occasion, a night match of Dec 19, delayed from the usual week because of Chelsea’s involvement in the World Club Championships in Japan. Sub-plots abound. Leeds’ manager, Neil Warnock, has been critical of Chelsea’s behaviour over the Clattenburg controversy.
Di Matteo was signed by Ken Bates during his time as chairman at the Bridge. Bates is currently chairman of Leeds, although he may have sold the club by Dec 19. If the takeover is delayed, Bates’ programme notes will be required reading. The small-talk in the boardroom could be lively if Abramovich travels. It promises to be another compelling Capital One Cup occasion.
Capital One Cup draw
- Leeds United v Chelsea
- Swansea City v Middlesbrough
- Norwich City v Aston Villa
- Bradford City v Arsenal
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Bertrand; Romeu (Oscar 71), Mikel (Ramires h-t); Moses, Mata, Piazon (Hazard 55); Sturridge.
Subs: Hilario, Ferreira, Marin, Saville.
Booked: Romeu, Mikel, Luiz, Oscar, Ramires.
Manchester United (4-1-4-1): Lindegaard; Rafael, Keane, Wootton, Buttner (Powell h-t); Fletcher; Nani, Anderson (Tunnicliffe 81), Giggs, Welbeck (Macheda 99); Hernandez.
Subs: Johnstone, Lingard, Vermijl, Brady.
Booked: Wootton, Nani, Keane, Giggs.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
A bit of a payback...its always nice to beat MU, even if but some accounts the result doesn't mean a much as the one 3 days ago...
MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 3 SHAKHTAR DONETSK 2
A stunning last-gasp header by substitute Victor Moses secured a much-needed 3-2 win which leaves us tied at the top of Group E with our beaten opponents.
Fernando Torres had given us the lead inside the opening five minutes, but only three minutes later the highly-coveted Willian equalised for the visitors when he converted a Fernandinho cross.
Shakhtar, in truth, had been the better team for the majority of the first half, but it was the Blues who went in ahead at the break thanks to a stunning Oscar lob six minutes before half time.
All the hard work, however, was undone two minutes after the restart when Willian scored an almost identical goal to his first one to draw Shakhtar level once more.
As the Blues huffed and puffed with time running out, it looked as though the game was slipping away, but with virtually the last action of the match, Mata swung in a corner from the right, and Moses, one of the smallest players on the pitch, rose highest to head into the top corner and seal a famous win, sending the home supporters delirious.
Drama is seldom in short supply on European nights at the Bridge, and while we will now need to secure another big result away in Juventus in a fortnight's time, our immediate attention turns towards a massive test in the Premier League on Sunday when we welcome Liverpool to west London.
The big news with regards to team selection was that John Terry, available again, started on the bench with David Luiz, who missed the weekend draw at Swansea with an ankle problem, coming back into the side to partner Gary Cahill in the centre of defence. Branislav Ivanovic reverted to a more familiar right-back role, while Cesar Azpilicueta dropped down to the bench. With Ashley Cole unavailable due to a hamstring injury, Ryan Bertrand started his first Champions League game since the final in Munich last May. In the other changes from Saturday, Ramires came in at the expense of Oriol Romeu to play alongside John Mikel Obi in midfield, while goalscorer Moses made way for the returning Juan Mata. Petr Cech once again captained the side in the absence of both Terry and Frank Lampard.
Shakhtar were unchanged from the first match between the sides.
Roberto Di Matteo had spoken in the pre-match press conference about the importance of starting the game well, and the players appeared to have heeded his words when we took the lead inside the opening five minutes.
Oscar showed a deft piece of skill wide on the right to evade his marker, and as he attempted to pick out Torres with his cross, Andriy Pyatov, the Shakhtar goalkeeper, was allowed to gather.
After rolling the ball out to Yaroslav Rakitskiy, the left-back, under pressure from Torres, played it straight back to the 'keeper, and as he hesitated in clearing, the Spaniard had made up enough ground to charge down his kick and break the deadlock.
It was the perfect start, and the goal appeared to spark Torres into life as almost from the restart he was unfortunate not to double our advantage, effortlessly skipping beyond Rakitskiy before firing at Pyatov.
The lead, however, was to last only three minutes, as with the subsequent attack Shakhtar restored parity.
Fernandinho was allowed to roam unchallenged into the Chelsea penalty area and as his cross from the right fell at the feet of Willian, the Brazilian, so instrumental in Ukraine a fortnight ago, drove his strike past Cech.
The visitors began to take control following the equaliser and almost went in front when Henrik Mkhitaryan fired narrowly wide after pouncing on a Luiz Adriano knock-down, and they were asking more than enough questions to give Di Matteo food for thought, particularly down their right-hand side.
Torres, meanwhile, went close again for the Blues, but rather than pick out the unmarked Eden Hazard he opted to shoot from the tightest of angles and could only screw his strike into the side-netting.
With so much at stake, it was perhaps unsurprising that there was a nervy atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge, and the away side's ability to retain the ball so well merely added to the sense of frustration.
Just after the half-hour mark, Alex Teixeira fizzed a strike inches past Cech's right-hand upright after a flowing move involving both Fernandinho and Luiz Adriano as Shakhtar sensed an opening, while at the other end clear-cut opportunities were proving elusive.
Six minutes before the break, though, we were back in front, albeit against the run of play.
As yet another Shakhtar attack broke down, Mata, who had been a virtual spectator throughout the first half, attempted to pick out the advancing Ivanovic, but as Pyatov raced off his line to head clear, the ball fell kindly to Oscar 35 yards from goal, and the 21-year-old took one touch before crashing his strike straight back over the keeper's head and into an empty net.
It was the youngster's fourth goal in this season's competition thus far, most of which had been of the spectacular variety, and it had come just at the right time.
If the first half had started in the best possible fashion, the second was the complete opposite, as barely two minutes in Shakhtar equalised for the second time on the night.
The ball was worked out to the right-hand side far too easily, and Darijo Srna had plenty of time to pick out Willian who doubled his tally for the evening.
It really was a cheap goal to concede, particularly at such a crucial time, and it allowed Shakhtar to settle comfortably back into their stride.
Moments later our disappointment was almost compounded when Razvan Rat smashed an effort past Cech from distance, only to be denied by the post.
As an attacking unit, we were struggling to get going, with only Eden Hazard looking capable of producing the spark we so desperately needed.
Midway through the second half it looked as though we had restored our lead when Mikel - the most unlikely goalscorer on the pitch - arrived at the far post to head home from a Mata free-kick, but the linesman's flag was raised, a decision which was proved to be the correct one from the subsequent replays.
With the clock ticking down we began to assert ourselves in the final third, giving the Shakhtar defence more to think about.
With 17 minutes left to play Hazard picked up the ball deep inside the opposing half and fed a delightful pass into the path of the advancing Ramires, but as the Brazilian prepared to pull the trigger he was sent crashing inside the box as the home supporters appealed for a penalty.
It looked a simple decision for the Spanish referee, but he waved the shouts away to the utter bewilderment of Di Matteo and his staff in the Chelsea dugout, along with almost 40,000 spectators inside the stadium.
Mikel again went close when he volleyed narrowly wide after a Mata corner had been headed into his path, while soon after Di Matteo made his first substitution of the night, replacing the hardworking Oscar with Victor Moses in a bid to inject some pace in wide areas.
The Blues forced a succession of corners in the final few minutes, realising the importance of securing all three points, but while Mata's deliveries were generally decent, the likes of Cahill and Ivanovic were unable to get the necessary touch.
However, in the third minute of stoppage time, another stunning Champions League night at Stamford Bridge was complete when substitute Moses rose highest in the box to head home from a Mata corner and steal the win at the death.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech (c); Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Bertrand; Oscar (Moses 80), Mikel, Ramires; Mata, Torres (Sturridge 89),
Unused subs: Turnbull, Terry, Azpilicueta, Romeu, Marin.
Scorers Torres 5, Oscar 39, Moses 90+3
Booked David Luiz 89
Shakhtar Donetsk (4-2-3-1): Pyatov; Srna (c), Kucher, Rakitskiy, Rat; Fernandinho, Hubschman; Teixeira (Ilsinho 77), Mkhitaryan, Willian; Luiz Adriano.
Unused subs: Kanibolotskiy, Shevchuk, Chygrynskiy, Stepanenko, Costa, Eduardo.
Scorers Willian 8, 47
Booked Teixeira 57
Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo from Spain
Last sec header to win the game...yeah, soccer is so boring...
I actually knew the score before I watched this game...damn you ESPN ticker!!!!
But even so, as the clock ticked down and down, I still got pretty nervous as where that 3rd goal came from...very cool and needed victory...good to see the magic from last year is still with us....
Di Matteo fired...
7 games in a row in the BPL without a win...
10 point behind league leader ManU...
and now eliminated from the Champions League in the group stage...the group stage!!!!!!!!!
I expect this kind of shit from my Cubs and Bears, but not my Blues...
Fernando Torres fires but Chelsea complete humiliating comedown from Champions League heights
Somewhere much warmer than west London in December, they will be recalibrating the satellite on Roman Abramovich's favourite yacht to make sure that they can get a decent signal for the broadcasting backwater that is ITV4. Relax, Mr Abramovich, your Thursday-night viewing is all taken care of.
From the glory of May to the Europa League in less than seven months, it has been one hell of a comedown for a club where the celebration murals from the Champions League final in Munich still adorn the outside of the stadium. As it turned out, Chelsea finally hit their stride last night with six goals and a first win under Rafael Benitez while their fate was being sealed in Donetsk with Juventus' 1-0 win over Shakhtar.
The Europa League is not what Abramovich planned for, but then this has been a chaotic calendar year: two managers sacked, two trophies won, Champions League group stage elimination for the first time in the club's history and they may yet reach Christmas as the official champions of the world. Welcome to Chelsea, where despair comes hot on the heels of triumph.
The roots of Chelsea's demise in the Champions League stretch back to the home draw in the first group game against Juventus when they threw away a two-goal lead, a significant moment that Petr Cech acknowledged after the game. This European campaign has become Benitez's problem, but it began under the regime of Roberto Di Matteo when crucial points were dropped against both Shakhtar and Juventus.
Two of the goals tonight came from Fernando Torres, the first time he has scored more than one in a game since his hat-trick against Queen's Park Rangers in April. Yet there were two first-half penalties awarded to Chelsea, both for handball, and the Spanish striker declined to take either. History has it that Torres just does not do penalties. With his current strike-rate he can hardly afford not to.
It was a good performance from Chelsea but given that their opponents took around £1m in transfer fees to assemble it really should have been. Asked what his experience of the Champions League had been, the Nordsjaelland coach, Kasper Hjulmand, replied: "A lot of beatings".
Benitez was understandably relieved to get his first win in spite of the bad news from Ukraine. It all starts again on Saturday away at Sunderland where he needs his first league victory to smooth the way for the trip to Japan where Chelsea could be playing the Fifa Club World Cup final a week on Sunday. It was a rocky start tonight.
Much of it was down to the Dutch referee Bas Nijhuis, who, with his winter tan, and slicked-back hair, got himself in rather a pickle in the first half. He awarded three penalties for handball, all of them dubious, the first of them to Nordsjaelland which Petr Cech saved. Had that one gone in then the pressure would have been on Chelsea.
Victor Moses was a threat on the right wing in the first half in particular, and Nordsjaelland lost their Croatian defender Ivan Runje to injury in the first 10 minutes. They held out nonetheless, for almost 40 minutes, sometimes with a little fortune. Their captain Nicolai Stokholm deflected a cross from Moses against his own bar.
With Chelsea in control, but jittery in front of goal, the home side conceded the first of Mr Nijhuis's dodgy penalties when Gary Cahill was judged to have handled Anders Christiansen's shot. His feet were outside the area when the shot struck him and his arm almost certainly was. It was Stokholm who took the penalty and Cech, as he has done so often, dug Chelsea out of a hole with a great save to his right
Three minutes later, Chelsea had a penalty of their own when Cahill's downward header was judged to have struck the arm of the substitute Mikkel Beckmann. Again, it was a questionable decision. Eden Hazard, in place of the regular penalty-taker Frank Lampard, struck a poor shot, Jesper Hansen saved and 35 minutes in there was still no goal.
When the third penalty for handball arrived it seemed like Nijhuis might have some kind of obsessive disorder. This time it was Patrick Mtiliga who was judged to have handled Juan Mata's shot. Again it was questionable. Enter David Luiz, who put the ball on the spot and proceeded to embark on the kind of run-up that a medium-fast bowler might favour, before drilling a shot past Hansen.
Chelsea deserved their lead and they had another in injury-time at the end of the half. Moses slipped in Torres and although his first shot hit Hansen he nimbly skipped over the goalkeeper, kept his feet, and tidied up with a neat finish.
There was a major embarrassment within 20 seconds of the start of the second half when Kasper Lorentzen picked up the ball in midfield from the kick-off and cut Chelsea's defence in two with a ball into the space behind Branislav Ivanovic. Running on to it was the Dutch 24-year-old Joshua John who did a nice job of beating Cech.
It was five minutes after Chelsea scored their third – a header by Cahill from Mata's free-kick from the right – that news came in of Oleksandr Kucher's own-goal in Donetsk that eventually gave Juventus their win over Shakhtar. Benitez's side scored a fourth around that time, a sequence of passes between Hazard and Torres opening up a run down the left for the Belgian. His cross was finished at the near post by Torres.
Hazard combined with Mata who scored the fifth after his first shot was saved by Hansen. Oscar, on for Ramires, scored a sixth; a goal made by Mata. Torres had a couple of chances to score his hat-trick and Nijhuis should have given him a penalty when he was pushed in the box. By the end of the game, Chelsea had made 20 attempts on goal and Nordsjaelland were willing the final whistle, but the atmosphere was muted.
They are out of a competition that the Chelsea support have taken great pleasure in declaring their supremacy over the three months or so of the season so far. The song goes, "We know what we are, champions of Europe, we know what we are." Chelsea in the Europa League? That sounds like an identity crisis in the making.
Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa: Torres sparks Blues goal glut
Rafa Benitez made his mark as manager as the hosts blew Paul Lambert's men away, with Frank Lampard and David Luiz among the goals and Ramires at the double in a rampant victory
Fernando Torres gave Rafa Benitez's men a flying start with a stunning third-minute header before a David Luiz free kick and Branislav Ivanovic header made sure the points were safe before half-time.
Two goals from Ramires and strikes from Frank Lampard, Oscar and Eden Hazard completed the emphatic scoreline after the break as the Blues matched their best-ever Premier League result to move up to third in the table.
While this Christmas present came been gift-wrapped from Villa, Chelsea were scintillating in their attacking purpose and deadly finishing - and could have had more had Lucas Piazon not been denied from the spot late on.
The biggest roar of the day was reserved for Lampard, who celebrated his 500th Premier League appearance with a wonderful goal struck from 30 yards in the 59th minute. The midfielder's contract expires at the end of the season and the crowd made their feelings clear to Roman Abramovich, singing "sign him up" after Lampard overtook Bobby Tambling's club record of 129 league goals.
Benitez made three changes to the side that beat Leeds in the Capital One Cup, with Luiz pushed into midfield in place of Oscar, while Paul Lambert picked the same line-up that won at Liverpool.
With Daniel Sturridge on the brink of a move to Liverpool and continuing talk that the Blues will launch January move for Radamel Falcao, Torres wasted no time in pushing his case to be the main man at Stamford Bridge with a goal that harked back to the halcyon days of his time at Liverpool.
Right-back Cesar Azpilcueta whipped in a cross from the right and the £50 million man timed his header perfectly, twisting his neck to plant it magnificently into the top corner from 16 yards.
Torres' seventh league goal of the season immediately settled any nerves around the stadium and in the 29th minute they were given a two-goal cushion. Villa defender Chris Herd brought Hazard down 25 yards from goal and Luiz stepped up to slam an unstoppable, dipping free kick over the wall and into the top corner.
Six minutes later, the result was put beyond doubt as the Villa defence fell asleep from a corner. Gary Cahill was allowed to turn and shoot in the box and, after Brad Guzan's brilliant save, Ivanovic was quickest to react and nodded home a simple header.
The Blues continued to press after the break and could have scored far more were it not for Guzan's heroics, the Villa keeper denying Juan Mata and Victor Moses superbly after the break.
He could do nothing, however, about Chelsea's 59th-minute fourth. It was classic Lampard, a drilled half-volley from 30 yards that skipped off the turf and planted in the bottom corner of the Villa net.
At the other end, Petr Cech was a virtual spectator but kept his concentration to divert Andreas Weimann's shot on to the crossbar.
Chelsea's pressure, though, was relentless. Fifteen minutes from time, substitute Lucas Piazon slipped in Ramires, who drilled his finish through Guzan's legs.
Referee Phil Dowd then awarded a penalty after Herd brought Oscar down in the box. The playmaker stepped up himself to sweep the spot kick into the top corner.
Seven minutes from time, Hazard added the seventh with a sensational finish into the top corner from 10 yards before Piazon missed the opportunity to make it eight as Guzan saved the Blues' second penalty.
It was perhaps not a fitting end to the day for the youngster on his league debut but Ramires soon added the final touch with a placed finish from the edge of the box, sealing the perfect Christmas gift for Chelsea fans on their last home game of the year.