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Van der Sar saves the best until last to deny Chelsea

5 August 2007 20:10

LONDON (AFP) - Edwin van der Sar helped Manchester United strike the first blow in the battle for Premiership supremacy as the champions defeated Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday.

The Dutch goalkeeper saved all three of Chelsea's penalties to give Sir Alex Ferguson's side a 3-0 shoot-out win over their bitter rivals after a feisty 1-1 draw at Wembley.

Ryan Giggs had given United a first half lead - his first ever senior goal at Wembley in 17 appearances - in the annual pre-season friendly, but Florent Malouda equalised and neither side was willing to give an inch after that.

Three Chelsea players and one from United were booked as referee Mark Halsey tried to keep control of a bruising encounter.

As has so often been the case, there was nothing between the Premiership's pre-eminent forces. But van der Sar, who had been criticised for his role in Didier Drogba's FA Cup final winner when the sides last met, was unbeatable in the shoot-out.

"My career record was 5-2 in penalty shootouts," said van der Sar.

"To save three in a row is a great feeling. I think we deserved the win because we played the better football and created more clearcut chances.

"This is a little revenge for the FA Cup final."

Wayne Rooney disagreed with van der Sar over the revenge element.

"It doesn't make up for the FA Cup," said the England striker.

"As for it being a psychological boost, I am not so sure."

The defeat completed a bad day for Jose Mourinho, who had suffered a serious blow on the eve of the match when John Terry sustained reported medial knee ligament damage in training.

The Chelsea captain was forced to watch from the sidelines at Wembley and could be out for up to four weeks.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele had also joined Terry, Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko and Wayne Bridge on a growing injury list on Saturday.

Mourinho was left with such a threadbare squad that he started without a recognised striker and named two goalkeepers, Carlo Cudicini and Hilario, among his substitutes.

Both sides had a point to prove and there was a definite edge to the clash.

United were still smarting from that FA Cup final defeat, while the Blues wanted to show last season's surrendering of the title to United was only a temporary aberration.

United were the more fluent force for much of the game. They had the first sight of goal when Giggs seized on a deflected pass from Cristiano Ronaldo, only for Petr Cech to save well.

Ronaldo's lacklustre Cup final display was a downbeat end to a magnificent season. But he was back to his bewitching best here and helped United take the lead in the 35th minute.

His perfectly-weighted pass sent Patrice Evra clear down the left and the French defender crossed towards Giggs, who showed great awareness to lift a first-time shot into the top corner.

But Chelsea drew level on the stroke of half-time. Malouda refused to let Rio Ferdinand block him as he chased Ashley Cole's lofted pass and, aided by a tug on United defender's shirt, the France winger got in front off him to poke the ball past van der Sar.

On a blisteringly hot afternoon, Rooney and Tal Ben Haim did little to cool the temperature.

Ben Haim had a history of clashing with Rooney during his time at Bolton and the Chelsea newboy was at it again as he was booked for a crude body-check.

It didn't take Rooney long to get his revenge and he was booked for a lunge that actually did more damage to Cech than Ben Haim as he followed through onto the keeper.

United were back on top at the start of the second half. It took another fine stop from Cech to deny Ronaldo and Cole had to block Giggs's follow-up shot.

Mourinho sent on Claudio Pizarro in an attempt to give Chelsea fresh impetus and the Peru striker responded with a shot that flashed just wide.

Ferguson gave United fans a glimpse of new signing Nani for the last 20 minutes, but it was the Portuguese winger's compatriot Ronaldo who went closest to winning it.

His surging run took him past Glen Johnson but Cech blocked at the near post and the match went to a shoot-out.

Now van der Sar took centre-stage. He produced a brilliant one-handed stop from Pizarro to keep out Chelsea's first effort, then plunged to his left to deny Frank Lampard before beating away Shaun Wright-Phillips's effort.

Rooney drove home United's third kick to give Ferguson's side the psychological advantage on the eve of the new season.

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Info

P 1 - 1 P

Competition
Community Shield
Date
5 August 2007
Kick-off
16:00
Half-time
1 - 1
Full-time
1 - 1
Penalties
3 - 0

Goals

R. Giggs 35'  
1 - 0
1 - 1

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