By Chris Wright
It appears that, while I was otherwise engaged watching Forest bore Burnley into a late submission last night, it seems there was an altogether more entertaining game cracking off at Old Trafford.
Thanks to goals from Javier Hernandez and Ji-Sung Park, Manchester United emerged from their Champions League quarter-final fixture against Chelsea with a 2-1 victory on the night (and a 3-1 aggregate victory overall, with Ryan Giggs directly assisting all three of United’s goals over both legs) and never once, by all accounts, looked like being caught.
It also seems that Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to gamble on handing Fernando Torres a start ahead of Didier Drogba backfired in a rather mighty way, with the Spaniard forcibly yanked from the stage at half-time after he endured another 45 minutes of something close to nothing.
When asked in a post-match presser whether he had made a mistake by plumping to start with Torres, Ancelotti said:
“Maybe. Could be. I told you a lot of times this season I wanted to start with Fernando for this kind of game, these type of tactics.
“I wanted to put more pressure up front because we needed to score. Didier was fresh and he could use his power up front. This was the reason I took out Fernando.”
And, just maybe, because he was a complete non-entity…again – though, to be fair, it’s not like Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou, Frank Lampard et al had sterling games either.
So that’s the long and short of it peeps, United are through to the last four of the Champions League with their treble dream still firmly intact, while Chelsea are left to mope home with their season rendered almost completely null and void – Mr Abramovich will be pleased.
Here’s 19 more big, hairy stills of last night’s action for your perusal…
Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney shake hands before the game
John O’Shea puts his head in where it hurts…
…with Wayne Rooney shortly following suit
Patrice Evra takes to the skies to beat Fernando Torres to the ball
Javier Hernandez pokes in Ryan Giggs’ low cross at the far post to open the scoring for United…
…then celebrates in the corner with Wayne Rooney
Frank Lampard gives Fernando Torres the eye while Chelsea wait to restart play
Sir Alex enjoys a mid-game herp derp
Sweeper-keeper Edwin van der Sar challenges Nicolas Anelka for the ball
A dejected Fernando Torres takes his place on the Chelsea bench after being withdrawn at half-time
Ramires ploughs through the back of Nani…
…only to pick up his second booking of the night
Half-time substitute Didier Drogba trumps Torres by scoring a classic ‘Drogba’ goal, i.e, darting down the channel, latching on to a lofted through-ball then firing past the oncoming keeper
Less than a minute after Drogba’s equaliser, Park Ji-Sung crops up on the edge of the area to bring Ryan Giggs’ clipped pass under and angle a finish past Petr Cech
Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard build themselves a wall
Chelsea players trudge from the pitch after the final whistle…
…while Wayne Rooney celebrates United’s progression through to the semi-finals of the Champions League with the home crowd
A flare is set off amidst the United fans after the final whistle
The look of a condemned man? Carlo Ancelotti heads for the tunnel
Photos courtesy of the PA.