Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti gambled on the out-of-form Fernando Torres instead of Drogba. Torres played as a lone striker, supported by Nicolas Anelka, Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda, and the formation seemed to catch United by surprise as Chelsea created several good chances in the first 15 minutes. First Torres headed wide from an Anelka cross and then he set up Anelka for a shot from the edge of the box that just missed the net.
Chelsea’s best opportunity fell to Frank Lampard who was free just inside the penalty box, but his shot was too close to Van der Sar. A year ago Lampard buries that shot. This year it is easily saved.
After withstanding the early Chelsea pressure, United started come into the game as Carrick, Giggs and Park won control of the midfield battle.
Javier Hernandez almost made 1-0 in the 27th minute when he got on the end of a Wayne Rooney. The goal was pulled back for offside (a very close call) but it was a warning to Chelsea.
Then as half-time neared United got the breakthrough they were looking for. When Chelsea only half-cleared a free-kick, Rooney picked out Giggs out on the right and he exchanged passes with John O’Shea before bursting into the box to deliver a low ball across goal that Hernández, at the back post, buried into the roof of the net.
Ancelotti responded by sending out Drogba for the second half in place of Torres and Drogba quickly got into the action firing a shot narrowly wide from 20 metres.
Chelsea’s task got much harder when with 20 minutes remaining Ramires was sent off for two yellow cards. But Drogba, who else, dragged Chelsea back into the game by chesting down Michael Essien’s through ball and finding the far corner of Van der Sar’s net.
Suddenly Chelsea were back in the game, but within 60 seconds United has ended any hope of a Chelsea comeback as within 60 seconds Giggs played in Park who fired across Cech to secure United’s passage to the Champions League semi-finals.
Over two legs Man United were the better team. Rio, Vidic, Rooney, Carrick and Giggs were brilliant. Rooney once again looked like the world class player that everyone thought he was last season.
As for Chelsea, there are a lot of questions about where they go from here. Will Ancelotti be back next season? What plays between Torres, Drogba and Anelka? What happened to the young players that Chelsea were going to being through this season?