08/08/2010 16:00, Report by Ben Hibbs
Chelsea 1 United 3
United landed the first blow in the battle of the Premier League heavyweights at Wembley to lift the season’s first silverware, as Antonio Valencia, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov gave the Reds an ultimately convincing win in the Community Shield at Wembley.
Sir Alex’s men were by far the better side in an entertaining first half, while Chelsea edged a slower-paced second 45 minutes. But the quality of United’s finishing decided it. Valencia’s beautifully-crafted first-half effort and Berbatov’s lofted strike came either side of Hernandez’s comically deflected effort to secure a 14th Shield triumph.
It may be the dawn of a new season, but Sir Alex continues to conjure selection surprises. When his teamsheet landed at quarter past two at Wembley, everyone was surprised to see Michael Carrick’s name alongside Paul Scholes in central midfield. Just two days earlier, the United boss had said Carrick would miss the start of the season with an ankle injury. But his near miraculous recovery was critical to wresting control in the midfield battle.
United fans keen to see the summer signings Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling would have to wait. Both players were named among a strong set of substitutes that also included, Dimitar Berbatov, Nani and Darren Fletcher. Sir Alex was clearly keen to use the game to further the sharpness of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia and Ji-sung Park – who saw their first action of the summer in Ireland.
When you consider the players left out in London, the strength of United’s squad is striking. Wes Brown, Rafael, Tom Cleverley, Darron Gibson and Federico Macheda were all absent, seemingly by choice. While Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Gary Neville, Anderson and Gabriel Obertan are on their way back to full fitness, which bodes well for the coming season.
There is often very little to choose between United and Chelsea – the last two Community Shield