English top-flight football returned to the fore yesterday as last season’s Barclays Premier League Champions, double winning Chelsea, took on league runners-up Manchester United in the 2010 FA Community Shield at Wembley.
The football match, often a good early indicator to forthcoming league fortunes, was won by Manchester United 3-1.
Chelsea started perhaps the brightest, however, and produced a penalty appeal before the match’s first real turning point arrived in the form of 39 year old Edwin Van der Sar’s powerful left handed save to his left from an Ivanovic header. The Dutchman dived hard to his left to palm away the strong headed attempt with a wonderful save.
Man United, as expected, came back into the game, primarily through veteran midfielder, Paul Scholes, who’s passing was magnificent all match before he was substituted on 80 minutes for Darren Fletcher. Scholes fluffed a good chance in the opening minutes, but other than that, produced a game which shows just why Sir Alex Ferguson was so keen to get at least another season out of his experienced midfield maestro.
But it was Wayne Rooney who produced the first telling pass of the match, as the England and Manchester United striker played in his teammate Valencia on 41 minutes to open the scoring. Rooney crossed low and Valencia finished perfectly before the first half ended with United leading 1-0, following more good work from the Manchester goalkeeper to deny Kalou and Ashley Cole.
United brought on new boy Hernandez for Michael Owen at half time among three substitutions which also included Berbatov (on for Rooney) and Nani (on for Park). All of those three subs would make an impact in the second 45, as Hernandez scored on his debut after just half an hour (scoring on 76 minutes) and Berbatov wrapped things up with a beautifully taken 90th minute goal, following a chipped pass from Nani.
Hernandez will be somewhat bemused with the style of his goal – the ball struck the Mexican full the face before rebounding into the Chelsea goal from a Valencia cross, but had shown some great touches to impress the fans wearing red. There was a hint of offside about the ball that played Valencia in; but nobody can argue with the cross he produced, nor Hernandez’ strong run to get into the middle for his winger.
Following this goal, Chelsea were quick to respond with one of their own through Kalou, though only after Van der Sar had twice denied Sturridge could the Frenchman bag himself a goal from a rebound following the second good save.
This goal, which arrived in the 83rd minute brought some tension to the final stages, but this was soon dispersed by Dimitar Berbatov’s mesmerising lobbed goal in the final minute.
United fans will be hoping Berbatov and Hernandez can produce similar results when the season proper begins.
For Chelsea, it was very much business as usual – against a weaker keeper, or just Van der Sar on a less than perfect day, they would have beaten almost any team in this match. As it was, they found two of Manchester United’s key men in imperious form: Van der Sar and Valencia, if fit, are match changing players, as they showed in this FA Community Shield.
These two teams will once again be contesting domestic and European honours this season, and, on Sunday’s evidence, there is only a hair’s breadth between them.
Hilario, Paulo Ferreira (Bruma 79), Ivanovic, Terry, Cole (Zhirkov 79), Essien, Lampard, Mikel (Drogba 60), Kalou, Anelka (Sturridge 60), Malouda (Benayoun 72)
Manchester United Lineup
Van der Sar, O’Shea, Jonathan Evans, Vidic, Fabio Da Silva (Smalling 71), Valencia, Scholes (Fletcher 80), Carrick (Giggs 79), Park (Nani 46), Owen (Hernandez 46), Rooney (Berbatov 46)