08/11/2009 18:54, Report by Ben Hibbs
Chelsea 1 United 0
Reds dominated possession and dictated play early on.
The match became far more open than is usual for United-Chelsea games of recent times – and all the more entertaining for it. One example arrived for United’s best chance of the half on 29 minutes when Fletcher’s arced pass scythed open the home side’s defence. Giggs struck the ball first time on the volley, looping his shot just a little too high over Petr Cech, and subsequently the crossbar. Chelsea finished the first half with a flurry of attacks as United’s passing became temporarily sloppy. But all in all it was a hugely positive first 45 minutes for the Reds, with Sir Alex’s tactics of pressing Chelsea’s midfield working well overall.
United began the second half equally as positively as the first, with Rooney stepping it up a gear. Fletcher flashed a shot over after good work from the United front man, then a well-worked move across the area involving Rooney ended with Giggs crossing just too high for Anderson at the far post. Fletcher was then denied with another attempt on the hour mark, as Ricardo Carvalho brilliantly raced out to block the Scotsman’s 20-yard effort.
With Fletcher and Carrick pulling the strings in midfield, and Rooney providing the spark up front, this was fast turning into one of United’s finest displays of the season so far. There looked like being only one winner - a case of when or if United could find a way through. The Reds’ best effort came in the 67th minute. A quick free-kick from Anderson allowed Rooney to press menacingly on into the final third. He played a clever one-two with Antonio Valencia and then drilled his shot