Manchester United vs. Chelsea  2 - 1


Cech admits Blues were second-best

13 April 2011 15:11

Petr Cech has admitted that Chelsea were beaten by the better side after exiting the Champions League against Manchester United.

Chelsea lost 3-1 on aggregate over the two legs of their quarter-final against English rivals United.

The English Premier League leaders won the first leg 1-0 away at Stamford Bridge, before a 2-1 victory in the return at Old Trafford booked their passage to the last four at Chelsea's expense.

The visitors finished the match with 10 men after Brazilian midfielder Ramires was shown a second yellow card with 20 minutes remaining.

"We lost both games so we can't say that we deserved more," Cech said.

Despite the disappointing defeats in the two legs, goalkeeper Cech insists that spirits remain high within the playing squad.

"You can see that the team is together because if you are not together then you go down to 10 men, losing 1-0 you will fall apart and we didn't do so," he said.

"Seven games to play, 21 points in it, so I think if you win most of the games then you can finish second. I think that our aim is to get as many points as we can."

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is rumoured to be set for the sack at the end of the season, but Cech claims the players should share responsibility for a disappointing season.

"We win together, we lose together," the Czech Republic international said.

"The players need to finish the season well for ourselves, the club, for everybody. We are not only playing for the manager or the owner, we are playing for the entire club."

"It is always disappointing if you are part of a big club and you don't win a trophy. After winning the double last season everyone thought we would defend the titles. We had a good start and then the season became difficult."

"But we were doing well in the Champions League until the two games against United."


Timing is right for Red Devils

13 April 2011 03:15

Sir Alex Ferguson thinks his squad are hitting their peak at just the right time after securing a spot in the Champions League semi-finals.

The Manchester United boss was speaking after his side's 2-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford on Tuesday in their Champions League quarter-final second-leg, a result which handed them a 3-1 aggregate win.

With his side leading the English Premier League by seven points from Arsenal and facing an FA Cup semi-final showdown with cross-town rivals Manchester City on Saturday, Ferguson is confident his men are nearing their peak as they hunt for a history-making treble.

"I think we've hit our form," Ferguson told Sky Sports. "I don't think there's any doubt about that."

"It's a great moment for us and I think the players are enjoying it. They're relishing the challenges they've got now. I think you saw that tonight."

"Momentum is a great thing. The bonus I've got is that all my players are getting fit again now and that's a great boost for us."

Ferguson also paid tribute to Chelsea for fighting back despite being 2-0 down on aggregate and a man down away from home after Ramires was sent off in the second half of Tuesday's game.

"They played their part tremendously," Ferguson said. "Chelsea played a big part in that game today."

"Down to 10 men in the second half they had a goal, so credit to them that way, but I thought we were the better team on the night."

"It was a competitive game, but it never got nasty."

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti conceded his team had lost to a better side, and but again defended 50 million-pound striker Fernando Torres, who was replaced at half-time and is yet to score for Chelsea since his signing in January.

"The game was balanced until the end, also we played with 10 men. Our performance was not so bad but I think in the end Man United deserved to win," Ancelotti said.

"It will be difficult, but we have a solution to reach the first places to play in the Champions League next year," he said.

"So quickly we have to move on from this defeat, from this disappointment, and look forward to the next game."

When asked about Torres, the Italian said: "We have to believe, to have the patience with him, we have to wait and he will improve."

"Drogba had a fantastic second half, using power, using ability and scoring a goal. He came on but his performance was good."


Champions League: Manchester United 2 Chelsea 1

12 April 2011 22:49

Manchester United reached the Champions League semi-finals and kept their treble dream alive as they beat 10-man Chelsea 2-1 on Tuesday.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men progressed 3-1 on aggregate thanks to goals from Javier Hernandez and Ji-Sung Park in an irrepressible display at Old Trafford.

It was a terrible night for Chelsea, who scored through substitute Didier Drogba, but had Ramires sent off and saw their Champions league dream ended yet again.

United beat Chelsea in the final in Moscow in 2008 and this result was another famous victory for Ferguson?s side who are also top of the English Premier League and through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

In this tie they should have gone ahead after 26 minutes when Rooney?s excellent cross was turned home by Hernandez, only for the goal to be harshly ruled offside.

But they grabbed the all-important goal two minutes before half-time to take a 2-0 advantage in the tie.

It was a clever touch from Irishman John O?Shea that set Ryan Giggs free on the right side, and the veteran midfielder danced into the area before crossing low for the predatory Hernandez to stretch and slide home at the far post.

It was just desserts for United, who showed real energy and desire to get at the Chelsea defence with Rooney, Hernandez, Park and Nani all showing pace, energy and zip.

Chelsea, though, had started the stronger, surprising their hosts with a new ?christmas tree? formation that featured Fernando Torres up front on his own and Nicolas Anelka in a deep-lying creative role.

Anelka had the first real chance of the game, curling an effort just wide, and also went close with another shot from 20 yards. But the best opportunity fell to Frank Lampard early on when he side footed straight to van der Sar when well placed.

Chelsea lived to rue that miss as United took the advantage and by half-time Ancelotti had seen enough ? ruthlessly substituting Torres for Drogba at half-time.

The Ivorian quickly made a difference, seeing one shot fly narrowly wide and a free-kick saved by van der Sar. But Chelsea?s night was effectively over when Ramires, already booked in the first half, lost balance as he clattered into Nani and was sent off.

The decision was perhaps harsh but in many ways it had been coming - Chelsea thundering into a series of tough challenges that left the Old Trafford crowd irate. They simply couldn?t cope with the pace and trickery of Nani, Rooney and Hernandez.

Drogba did equalise after 76 minutes, turning superbly on a long pass from Michael Essien. But United replied within 60 seconds when Park drilled home a left-foot strike to clinch United a place in the last four and leave Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti under intense pressure.


Champions League preview: Manchester United v Chelsea

12 April 2011 02:16

Chelsea face Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League quarter-final second leg, looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit.

The first leg saw Chelsea denied a clear-cut penalty that angered Blues supporters and players alike but they could hardly complain with the result given their players' performances.

Manchester United took a deserved aggregate lead through Wayne Rooney's first-half golf.

And given the circumstances that Chelsea are in, the game will serve as a 'final', according to summer signing Yossi Benayoun.

"Everyone knows - the manager, the players - that we are playing to save our season,'' the Israeli said.

Carlo Ancelotti believes an Old Trafford victory is not beyond the realms of possibility.

"We know it will be difficult to win there, but we have the confidence to do it. Last year we won at Old Trafford," the Chelsea boss said.

On Saturday, Chelsea were bailed out by Florent Malouda, who has endured a tough season, against Wigan, who they thrashed 6-0 earlier in the season.

But, in their favour, the Blues welcome back Alex and Benayoun from injury for the quarter-final clash.

The Red Devils, who enjoyed an easy win against 11th-placed Fulham on Saturday, have not lost a home tie in Europe in six years and have conceded only two goals in the competition this season.

Sir Alex Ferguson has emphasised the importance of the fans' support to welcome the reigning English Premier League champions.

"Our biggest advantage is Old Trafford. The fans will be fantastic and there will be an electric atmosphere."

But with Chelsea likely to attack as it chases the tie, United will have to defend stoutly.

And Ferguson is confident his side has that area on the park figured out, especially with the return of injury-plagued Rio Ferdinand.

"The defence has done very well although that might have a lot to do with the way we have operated our midfield in Europe this season."

"We have a lot of experience of playing in Europe now, and knowing how to keep possession of the ball has helped. We've found a way of playing in Europe, and I think we have the right players for the job on Tuesday."

The winner of the all-English affair is likely to face Schalke, who hold a 5-2 advantage heading into the return leg against reigning champions Inter Milan, in the semi-finals.


Essien backs Torres to fire

12 April 2011 00:09

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien insists the players are not worried about the barren run being experienced by new signing Fernando Torres.

The Spaniard has so far been unable to score since arriving at Stamford Bridge in January, but could break the drought in perfect fashion if he can get on the score sheet during Tuesday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final second-leg against Manchester United.

But Essien says the playing group is not concerned, and think it's only a matter of time before Torres begins finding the net.

"We know it is going to come. As you can see he has been working really hard," Essien said.

"He has the support from everyone so it is going to come and you just have to be patient. He'll start scoring for us and everything will be fine."

Fellow Chlesea midfielder and Torres' former Liverpool team-mate Yossi Benayoun also backed the Spanish ace to begin finding his feet and Essien agreed with the Israeli.

"Fernando (Torres) is one of the best strikers in the world and in Europe at the moment. When he starts scoring I think all the noise about him will stop and it's just a matter of time," Essien said.

"He's come to a new club and he needs to settle but with the players that we have, we know he will deliver when he is really settled."

Torres is without a goal in seven appearances for the Blues.


Ancelotti: Blues need to believe

11 April 2011 22:33

Ancelotti: Blues need to believe

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said belief is the key to overcome Manchester United and progress to the Champions League semi-finals.

Ancelotti's team must overcome a 1-0 deficit - an away goal at that - on Tuesday after losing at Stamford Bridge last week.

The Italian tactician says his players must believe in themselves to have any chance of getting through to the next phase, where they would be likely to face Schalke for a spot in the coveted European final.

"Now I have two days so I am going home and I will watch the first game one, two or three times," Ancelotti said.

"I have to prepare something we can do to create difficulties. I want to try to do something special for the next game."

"To win there (at Old Trafford) you have to do 100 percent in everything. You have to use personality, courage and you have to control the game."

"To do that, the players truly have to believe that we can win there."

Chelsea won 2-1 on their last visit to Old Trafford early last year, but Ancelotti said breaking down the United defence would be a difficult task for his team.

"Obviously, they (United) have the advantage and will try to use counter attack (and) to defend well," Ancelotti said.

"They are a fantastic defence doing a fantastic job so it will not be easy to score but we have 90 minutes to try to do it."

Meanwhile, midfielder Yossi Benayoun insists Chelsea will go on to win the trophy if they can overcome United.

The 30-year-old, who has only made five appearances for the club due to an Achilles injury, said the Champions League was the goal with a top-four finish in the English Premier League almost assured.

"I'm sure if we beat United we'll go to the end and win the trophy," Benayoun said.

"They are a big team with a great manager but we have belief we can do it, despite losing at home."

"We have to give everything and try our best."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 12 +33 34
2 12 +21 26
3 12 +13 25
4 12 +11 23
5 12 +7 22

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 12 +33 34
2 12 +21 26
3 12 +13 25
4 12 +11 23
5 12 +7 22