A day which was suppose to define our season, a day on which we were suppose to forget all the shambles of the previous months, a day which in the end turned out to be another ignominious European night as we failed to overcome a one goal deficit from the first leg at Stamford Bridge.
Javier Hernandez gave Manchester United the lead just before the end of the first half, and the joy of second half equaliser from Didier Drogba was soon turned into despair as Ji-Sung Park scored at the other end, a goal which ultimately proved to be the winner on the day.
Carlo Ancelotti shuffled his side around as Alex and Fernando Torres were drafted into the starting line-up, starting with a 4-3-3 formation with Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda forming part of the front three along with the Spaniard, as the pre-match debate regarding Drogba’s inclusion in the team created much confusion among everyone.
The game started well enough for the Blues, as they created chances despite their laboured build up.
Florent Malouda’s great run from the midfield created an early chance for Frank Lampard, but his side foot finish from the edge of the box didn’t manage to trouble Van der Sar.
Soon, Hernandez had the ball in the back of the net, but he was correctly ruled offside by the tinniest of the margins.
Just after that, Nicolas Anelka went close when Fernando Torres set him up, as his shot from outside of his foot just brushed past the post. He had a half chance later when the ball broke for him, but Van der Sar was quick off his line and stopped Anelka from taking advantage, a situation where in a first time shot would have been the best option.
After the initial spell of good possession, United came back in it as Chelsea couldn’t take advantage of their good spell.
Just as the half looked destined for goalless ending United struck through Hernandez. Some good work on the right hand side as between O’Shea and Giggs meant that the Welshman was free in space behind as Anelka went to sleep, and had all the space to deliver a dangerous ball which found its way to the far post for Hernandez, who was in the same position in which he had earlier judged offside, to poke it in.
The goal just before the break took the stuffing out of Chelsea and changes the whole mentality going into the break.
Carlo Ancelotti introduced Didier Drogba in place of Fernando Torres after the break, a decision which most probably was prompted by the goal conceded just before the break.
The decision didn’t have any immediate impact on Chelsea’a play, meaning that the task of overcoming this two goal deficit was increasing by the minute.
The task became almost impossible when Ramires was sent off with 20mins to go as he received a second yellow for a rather ugly, yet not dangerous, challenge from behind on Nani who exploited the situation to the fullest.
Didier Drogba, playing his 300th game today, gave the travelling supporters, who had to endure the all the troubles on the M6 junction to get to the game, hope when he latched on to a Michael Essien’s pass before chesting it down to score.
As the Blues were hoping to build on this equaliser they were dealt a killer blow when Ji-Sung Park scored at the other end inside a minute. Once again, Ryan Giggs defied his age and created the goal, meaning he has been the creator of all the three United goals over the two legs.
This defeat means that our season is now over, at least in terms of silverware it is. It also raises fresh doubts over Carlo Ancelotti’s future at the club and about the whole squad in general as well with many players not having many years left on their contracts.
There will be rebuilding done over the course of the summer, which has been made abundantly clear over the past few months, but what direction the club will take is still unsure, nor is it known who will oversee this rebuilding.
Carlo Ancelotti after the game conceded that United were the better of the two, he said; “Our performance was not so bad but in the two games United deserved to win,”
“The game was in balance until the end. Also we played with 10 men.
“We came back into the game with 10 men but in the end it was not enough.
“I think we had good control of the game for the first 25 minutes of the first half (but) we were not able to score.
“We had some opportunities to score but the end of the first half when they scored made it more difficult for us.”
On Fernando Torres, he added; “We have to believe, to have the passion with him and wait (to see) if he’ll improve.”
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Alex (Ferreira 82), Terry (c), Cole; Ramires, Essien, Lampard; Malouda, Anelka (Kalou 61), Torres (Drogba 46).
Goals: Drogba 77min
Sent-off: Ramires 70min