Shield success for United
Manchester United produced a clinical display to earn a 3-1 victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley.
By Peter Fraser
Last Updated: 08/08/10 10:48pm
Paul Scholes inspired Manchester United to a clinical display to earn a 3-1 victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley.
Antonio Valencia scored the opening goal in the first half before setting up summer signing Javier Hernandez for a freakishly fortuitous second after half-time, while Dimitar Berbatov scored a magnificent third after Salomon Kalou's consolation.
But the plaudits of the perennial season curtain-raiser should also go to United veteran Scholes as the 35-year-old delivered a vintage display to dictate the midfield at Wembley.
It was an added, ironic twist that Scholes should conjure such an impressive lesson in long and short-range possession in a match which was billed as the chance to move on from the World Cup.
Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry were booed by respective rival fans following their abject performances in England's dismal failure in South Africa, while the watching Fabio Capello was also singled out for verbal abuse.
Scholes had ignored Capello's attempts to lure him out of international retirement prior to the World Cup and his outing on the seemingly perfect, newly-relaid pitch was a wrench of the knife in the torso of England's boss as he prepares for Wednesday's friendly against Hungary.
Kalou set up a lively finish with his late tap-in, but United, led by Scholes, were the better team in the decisive areas of the pitch and last season's Premier League and FA Cup Double-winners Chelsea will be hugely disappointed by their afternoon.
Michael Carrick was a shock starter for United after the midfielder had only made a surprise return to training on Saturday, having previously been ruled out for a fortnight by boss Sir Alex Ferguson due to an ankle injury.
Michael Owen made Ferguson's first XI alongside Rooney in what was the former's first competitive appearance since injuring his hamstring at the same venue in February's Carling Cup final.
Goalkeeper Hilario started in goal for Chelsea, who lifted the Shield after defeating United on penalties last season, in the injury-enforced absence of Petr Cech, while Branislav Ivanovic partnered Terry at centre-back and Didier Drogba was on the bench as he worked his way back to full fitness.
Carlo Ancelotti was characteristically laid back ahead of kick-off, but the Italian will have been concerned after admitting his disappointment at a pre-season when Wednesday's loss to Hamburg came in the wake of successive defeats to Ajax and Eintracht Frankfurt.
And the former AC Milan boss will have been even more worried by the manner in which a long pass from Rooney dissected his defence in the opening minutes, with Cole misjudging the flight, before Hilario gathered Valencia's weak lob.
Midfield maestro Scholes was relishing his outing, but his radar was a little off when he miscued a volley after arriving inside the 18-yard area with trademark timing.
The Community Shield is usually more about psychology than tactics, clichés about stating intent and putting down a marker, and it was clear that Chelsea did not enjoy the fact that they were playing second fiddle to a team they also beat twice in the league in 2009/10 to pip their rivals to the title by one point.
They promptly responded in an entertaining opening. Nicolas Anelka tried his luck from 20 yards, Edwin van der Sar spilled the dipping shot and was fortunate that Kalou's follow-up rolled across the face of goal.
Van der Sar redeemed himself minutes later when Ivanovic out-jumped Nemanja Vidic to force an excellent save from the 39-year-old Dutchman as he flung himself to his left to palm away the header.
United, though, continued to possess the greater threat and Valencia was thriving on the quarterback passes of Scholes to give England defender Cole a torrid afternoon.
Cole has been repeatedly linked with Real Madrid this summer and reports have suggested that he requested to move to the Spanish capital before being told he could not leave by Chelsea.
It did appear that his mind may be elsewhere as he spent the match chasing Valencia's shadow when United continually targeted the left-back, and to devastating effect in the 41st minute.
Scholes unleashed another rapier 50-yard delivery into the inside-right channel for Rooney to centre an immaculate, first-time cross that left Valencia with the task of converting after running off the blindside of Cole.
United deserved their half-time lead. Scholes had been superb.
Ferguson was obviously impressed and felt comfortable enough to make three changes at the break, with Owen, Rooney and Park Ji-sung being replaced by Hernandez, Berbatov and Nani.
Ancelotti was less taken by the performance of his team and he refrained from making any substitutions, although he may have wished that he had as the same group of players in blue did not appear to have lost a defensive fragility after the break.
Ex-England captain Terry took a risk when he attempted to step up for offside against Mexico international Hernandez, who played a pass that Berbatov could not quite get a toe on.
Ancelotti decided to react on the hour mark and brought on Drogba in place of John Obi Mikel, while Anelka, another man who would have wanted to forget the World Cup after France's soap opera, made way for Daniel Sturridge.
With the introduction of Drogba, Chelsea gained an attacking threat and United's defence, which included Chris Smalling after a 71st minute substitution, certainly had more to do in comparison with their quiet first half.
Yossi Benayoun, a close-season acquisition from Liverpool, came on for Chelsea as Ancelotti pressed for an equaliser, and the Israeli playmaker almost made an immediate impact when teeing up Sturridge for a dragged long-ranger.
But Hernandez was the new face who will remember his afternoon fondly as in the 76th minute he netted probably the most bizarre goal that will be scored throughout 2010/11.
Valencia again span off the back of Cole to cross low into Chelsea's area and Hernandez arrived at the back post to trip over his own feet, cannon the ball into his face and ricochet into the net.
Chelsea could have been forgiven for going through the motions for the remainder of the match, but Ancelotti's side continued to battle and Kalou was able to set up a tense conclusion when firing in a rebound from close range with seven minutes left to play.The goal gave Chelsea an incentive and they finished on the front foot, however, their hopes of forcing a penalty shoot-out were gone when Berbatov capped a wonderful period of keep-ball with a stylish, lobbed half-volley in injury-time.
|Chelsea||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|7||Shots on Target||4|
|9||Shots off Target||3|