Manchester United beat Chelsea 3-1 at Old Trafford despite Wayne Rooney missing a penalty in the second half.
Chris Smalling, Nani and Rooney were all on the score sheet in the first half for United but an early second half goal from Fernando Torres put Chelsea right back in the game.
The first half was an open affair with both teams trading chances but it was Man United who were the more clinical side, when after only 8 minutes Chris Smalling rose at the back post to head home Ashley Young’s cross from a free kick.
Replays show the United defender was a yard or so offside but was still completely unmarked by the Chelsea defence for a free header on goal.
Less than five minutes later, Torres was through on goal thanks to a mistake by Anderson but the Spanish striker pulled his shot just wide of De Gea’s goal.
Despite his miss, Torres looked bright on the counter attack and in the 31st minute showed his confidence was returning when he attempted a bicycle kick from Daniel Sturridge’s cross from the right but his shot went wide.
Chelsea should have equalised in the 27th minute when Torres’ cut back into the box found Ramires with the goal gaping at his mercy but his shot was too close to De Gea, who did very well to stretch out a hand and clear the ball for a corner.
The difference between the two teams on the day was the finishing but Man United’s wingers were Ferguson’s biggest weapon.
Both Nani and Young caused Chelsea so many problems down the flanks and when the pair weren’t pulling their opposing full backs down the lines they were cutting inside, as Nani demonstrated for his goal in the 37th minute.
Although Evans’ cross field ball to Nani looked to have found the winger in an offside position, the linesman didn’t see it and Nani cut inside before releasing a stunning shot from outside the box that gave Petr Cech no chance.
Just before stoppage time in the first half, United poured more misery on Chelsea when Phil Jones’ run into the box resulted in a scrambled clearance by Terry that came off Nani and into the path of Rooney who gladly tapped the ball into the back of the net from close range.
United came out in the second half perhaps resting on their laurels, possibly with their landslide victory over Arsenal in mind but Chelsea put a dampener on that idea when Torres scored only his second goal in Chelsea colours to pull one back for Andre Villas-Boas’ team.
In the 46th minute, the substitute Nicolas Anelka played a brilliant through ball to Torres, whose deft chip went over De Gea and into the back of the net.
United had a chance to pull clear of Chelsea in the 55th minute when Nani was adjudged to have been brought down by Ramires in the box, although replays suggest the Brazilian got a touch of the ball.
It didn’t matter however as Rooney failed to score when he slipped and put his shot wide from the spot.
Chelsea’s counter attacking caused United problems and Torres looked to have pulled the deficit back to one in the 83rd minute when he beat United’s offside trap and looked clean through on goal.
The Chelsea number 9 rounded De Gea with ease but then produced an astonishing miss with all the time in the world to tap the ball into the empty net.
Rooney had just missed a great chance 6 minutes earlier when his shot from Evra’s low cross hit the post.
As Hernandez tried to convert the rebound he was caught with a terrible challenge by Ashley Cole, which should have seen the Chelsea player see red but Phil Dowd gave only a yellow card.
United had one more brilliant opportunity to add to the scoreline when in stoppage time Rooney was put through on goal but decided to square the ball to Berbatov who couldn’t stretch far enough to put the ball on target.
Manchester United can be very happy with the three points as Chelsea had more chances in the second half and could have come back but their finishing was not up to scratch and United were let off the hook to an extent.
With Manchester City being held 2-2 away to Fulham on the same day, United preserved their 100 per cent record for another week and look unlikely to drop it anytime soon.
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Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea
Full time: Phil Dowd blows the final whistle and it’s all over at Old Trafford as United come away with the points. The second half was a more evenly contested affair than the first but it will be remembered for the misses more than the goals as Rooney’s penalty went wide and Torres’ astonishing miss will haunt him.
90min+3: Ivanovic gets his head on a cross from a corner but the ball is cleared off the line by Evra.
90min+2: Man United are just running the clock down now with some neat passing.
90min+1: Another big miss by United. Rooney is clean through on goal but decides to square it to Berbatov. The Bulgarian’s shot is cleared off the line by Cole.
90min: Nani gets past Cole in the box but the referee gives a free kick to Chelsea. There will be five minutes of added time.
89min: Young gets down the left again and passes in Evra but the Frenchman’s cross is blocked.
87min: Carrick releases Young down the left and the winger wins a corner. He takes it short to Evra whose cross is poor and easy for Cech.
86min: Nani breaks once again and holds the ball up brilliantly before offloading it to Young on the left who crosses it into Rooney but his header is caught by Cech.
83min: Miss of the century from Torres. Chelsea’s number 9 is clean through on goal, rounds De Gea and pulls his left footed shot wide of the open goal. Unbelievable. He could’ve walked the ball into the net there.
81min: Mata tries to find Lukaku at the back post but fails to do so. Goal kick to United. Nani breaks and sends a great ball across the box but Berbatov can’t reach it.
80min: Valencia is booked for a foul on Torres.
79min: John Obi Mikel comes on for Raul Meireles and Berbatov replaces Hernandez.
77min: Young plays it across the box and Evra crosses along the ground from the left. Rooney’s touch comes off the post and Hernandez follows it up with a shot that goes wide. The Mexican striker is fouled in the process by Ashley Cole and the Chelsea left back is booked while Chicarito receives attention. Bad tackle from Cole, as the replays show.
76min: Nani is fouled on the right hand side of Chelsea’s box and wins a free kick.
75min: Chelsea appeal for handball this time as Carrick chests it in his own box. Ivanovic follows up the clearance with a long range shot that goes wide.
73min: United counter and Young wins a corner for United after appeals of handball. Jones is offside from the play from the corner.
72min: Torres shoots at De Gea but the ‘keeper parries. The Spanish striker gets on the rebound but skies it over the bar.
70min: Mata crosses near post to Lukaku but Evra is on hand to clear for a corner. No Chelsea player can get on the end of it however, goal kick to United.
69min: Terry’s header is deflected for another corner. Phil Jones clears well and looks like he may have injured himself in the process but he plays on.
68min: Carrick clears a dangerous Chelsea cross for a corner as Sturridge comes off for Lukaku.
67min: Young’s short corner eventually allows him to cross to Jones at the far post who puts his header wide.
66min: Rooney hits it off the wall and his rebound shot goes out for a corner.
65min: United passing the ball around with confidence as Ivanovic fouls Nani. Free kick to United. Young and Rooney stand over it.
62min: Smalling fouls Torres as United make a double substitution. Chris Smalling comes off for Antonio Valencia and Anderson comes off for Michael Carrick. It looks like Smalling might have picked up an injury.
60min: Torres is in on goal but Jones puts it out for a corner.
56min: Rooney slips at the vital moment and misses the penalty.
55min: Nani looks like he was taken down in the box by Ramires and Phil Dowd gives a penalty to United.
46min: Goal! Torres’ scores for Chelsea. The Spaniard is put through on goal and flicks it over De Gea. Great finish by Torres.
Half time: United come out on top after the first half despite Chelsea also having their fair number of chances.
45min: Goal! Rooney scores after a scramble in the Chelsea box. Jones forces his way through the Chelsea box and Terry’s attempted clearance comes off Nani who unintentionally knocks it into Rooney’s path for the United number 10 to side foot the ball into the net.
37min: Goal! Brilliant long range goal from Nani. The Portugese winger picks up the ball inside the Chelsea half on the right and cuts inside until he gets outside the Chelsea box where he unleashes a piledriver of a shot into the top corner of the net. 2-0 to United.
34min: Rooney attempts a lob from outside the box but it goes wide.
32min: Torres’ flicked header finds Sturridge unmarked at the back post but his shot is saved by De Gea.
31min: Torres tries a bicycle kick from a Sturridge cross but it goes wide. Chelsea have had most of the possession in the last couple of minutes as United seem to be standing off them.
29min: Young shows off his skill with a bicycle kick clearance and wins a free to relieve the pressure on United.
27min: Absolutely brilliant save by De Gea as Torres squares the ball to Ramires who has to simply tap the ball into the back of the net but hits it too close to De Gea who stretches to clear the ball. His attempt to catch from the subsequent corner isn’t as inspiring but he eventually collects.
26min: Another great cross from Nani nearly finds Rooney but the Chelsea defence clears well.
24min: Great pass with the outside of Nani’s boot down the right finds Hernandez in the box but the Mexican striker’s touch is just slightly too heavy and Cech saves.
22min: Raul Meireles’ brilliant flick into Lampard in the box results in a goal kick for United as the England midfielder pulls his shot wide.
20min: Rooney plays it to the wing and eventually Nani’s cross is played back into the box by Evans where it looks to have struck Lampard’s arm in a botched clearance attempt but the referee doesn’t see it.
19min: Great interplay between Rooney and Nani results in a foul by Ashley Cole on Nani. Free kick in a dangerous position just outside the Chelsea box to United. Rooney stands over it.
18min: Good in-swinging corner from Young but Cech is powerful in his attempts to catch and does so well. Good goalkeeping from the Czech international.
17min: Sturridge wastes a crossing opportunity. It’s a very open game as both sides have had chances as United win a corner thanks to some good work by Nani.
15min: Great play between Evra and Young down United’s left. A cross field pass eventually finds Young at the back post but his header doesn’t have enough power to trouble Cech.
14min: Lampard shoots at goal but it’s deflected and Chelsea get the corner. Ivanovic gets a chance from the corner but heads it straight at De Gea.
12min: Big chance for Torres. A mistake by Anderson gifts the Spanish striker an opportunity inside United’s box but Torres’ shot goes just wide of the post. Big let off for United and Anderson there.
11min: Sturridge wins a corner off Jonny Evans and Torres gets a chance from the subsequent cross but De Gea collects comfortably.
8min: GOAL! Chris Smalling gets on the end of Ashley Young’s cross and heads United into the lead. It looks like the United defender was offside but the linesman didn’t spot it. 1-0 to Manchester United.
7min: Young wins a free kick on the left hand side of Chelsea’s box.
5min: A bad back pass from Hernandez gives Torres a chance but the United defence stands tall as Sturridge shoots wide.
4min: Nervy moment for De Gea who needlessly puts the ball out of play deep in United’s own half.
3min: Ashley Cole’s cross is met by Ramires who strikes at goal but De Gea stretches a leg to block it. The corner comes to nothing.
1min: We’re underway at Old Trafford and Hernandez is already using his pace to trouble the Chelsea back four.
Man United put their Premier League 100% record on the line when they welcome third placed Chelsea to Old Trafford for Sunday’s 4pm kick off.
Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal were the last visitors to Old Trafford and Andre Villas-Boas, entering his first high pressure clash with Sir Alex Ferguson, will be keen to avoid the thrashing United doled out to the Gunners.
United’s last three games has seen them score 16 goals, 6 of which has comes from the boot of Wayne Rooney and with two hat tricks in his last two outings the England striker is most certainly back to his best.
Ferguson rested a number of players for Champions League draw with Benfica in midweek and David De Gea, Anderson, Ashley Young could all return to the starting lineup as could Rio Ferdinand who is fit again.
However Ferguson will be without Nemanja Vidic (calf), Tom Cleverley (foot) and Rafael (shoulder) while Danny Welbeck (hamstring) is not expected to be available until next week.
34 year old Villas-Boas has now been afraid to make the big decisions in the opening rounds of games, benching some the expensive and experienced players in the squad.
Their start to the Premier League has been steady if not eye catching however with 3 consecutive wins behind them they enter Sunday’s clash just 2 points behind United and could go above them with a win.
Chelsea come into the game on the back of a narrow win over Bayern Leverkusen in the Champions league and the Chelsea management and fan’s alike will have been pleased to see the much maligned Fernando Torres creating the goals that set them on their way to three points.
Against Sunderland last weekend Villas Boas opted for Daniel Sturridge ahead of Torres upfront and was rewarded with a goal, this week the former Porto coach might go for the big game experience of the 50 million pound man as Chelsea are once again without Didier Drogba.
Chelsea welcomes back Ramires after suspension however goalkeeping understudies Hilario and Ross Turnbull are both carrying knocks and could join Drogba on the sidelines, although neither would have been expected to start.
The signings of Raul Meireles and Juan Mata have given Chelsea more of a fresh look about them, Mata in particular has settled well into the life in the premier league and looked every inch the 20 million plus player.
However recent history suggests an United win with the last two games between these sides ending 2-1 in favor of the Red Devil and with Rooney and Co. in such good form we could a repeat performance.
Man United (from): De Gea, Lindegaard; Evans, Evra, Fabio, Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Giggs, Nani, Park, Valencia, Young; Berbatov, Hernandez, Owen, Rooney.
Chelsea (from): Cech, Ivanovic, Bosingwa, Ferreira, Terry, Luiz, Alex, Cole, Mikel, Romeu, McEachran, Ramires, Lampard, Meireles, Mata, Malouda, Torres, Anelka, Sturridge, Kalou, Lukaku, Hilario, Turnbull.