|1||Van der Sar|
While the Reds won't be as comfortable as Real Madrid (4-0), Schalke (5-2) and Barcelona (5-1) heading into next week's second legs, Sir Alex Ferguson's men will still be favourites to reach the semi-finals after this psychologically significant win at Stamford Bridge. It was United's first victory in Chelsea's backyard since April 2002 when Rooney was a sixteen year-old still awaiting his senior Everton debut and the Reds were chasing, ultimately in vain, a fourth successive league title.
Rio Ferdinand - United's major signing in that same year, 2002 - returned to the Reds' line-up for his first appearance since 1 February and made a confident start, beating the diving Fernando Torres to a low ball in from the right. The same Chelsea striker buzzed around the United area in the early stages but his only shot on target was straight at Edwin van der Sar, also back in action after missing the weekend's win at West Ham.
More Wayne Rooney headlines flashed in front of our eyes momentarily when he collapsed in pain in the third minute, after Michael Essien’s raised studs caught the Reds forward on the top of the foot. Fortunately Rooney recovered, while his Ghanaian assailant escaped a caution.
United’s first corner appeared to cause some panic in the Chelsea ranks, with Didier Drogba making a hash of his clearance but then redeeming himself with a vital diversion of Ji-sung Park’s shot. The fit-again Korean scored when United last gleaned a positive result at Stamford Bridge – 1-1 in September 2008 – so it was no surprise to see him starting again, for only the second time since Boxing Day.