(GSM) - Antonio Valencia, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov earned Manchester United a 3-1 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley.
The Premier League season is just six days away and Sunday provided an indication of what we can expect over the next nine months in an interesting encounter at the home of football.
Valencia and Hernandez put United in control with goals either side of half-time and although Salomon Kalou set up a nervy finish seven minutes from time, the Red Devils completed a deserved win through Berbatov's fine goal in stoppage time.
Together with Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney terrorised the Chelsea defence at times during an entertaining opening period in which both sides could have claimed the lead before United eventually did.
Branislav Ivanovic came closest for Chelsea when he climbed above Serbian team-mate Nemanja Vidic to reach Florent Malouda's free-kick and angled a header towards the corner that brought a fine save out of veteran United keeper Edwin Van der Sar.
The Dutchman's inability to hold a long-range Nicolas Anelka effort earlier in the contest had led to a clear sight of goal for Salomon Kalou.
But from an acute angle, Kalou instead turned the ball back into the six-yard box, which was vacant of both United defenders and his own attackers.
United took a bit longer to get going. Yet it quickly became apparent Scholes was going to take some stopping.
Fabio Capello will not be the only England manager to lament the midfielder's retirement. Steve McClaren felt exactly the same way. But the Italian will continue to wonder what might have been if Scholes had been given longer than a couple of hours to decide on a last-minute offer to head for South Africa.
His calmness in possession and the accuracy of his passing mean, even at 35, he is very hard to subdue.
One cleverly disguised pass set Rooney up for a shot that just evaded the far post and Scholes was also the inspiration behind a Michael Owen cross that forced Ivanovic into a hurried clearance.
But it was the brilliant cross-field ball for Rooney, delivered from inside his own half that did the real damage.
Sensing there was little danger as he jogged behind his brother in ignominy, Terry offered Rooney the room with which to execute a perfect first-time cross, drilled right into the heart of Chelsea's penalty area. Only Valencia read Rooney's intentions and the Ecuador man gleefully tapped past Henrique Hilario.
It was the kind of moment that proved Rooney is right to be lauded, while at the same time leaving his World Cup performances, particularly the awful one against Algeria, totally inexplicable.
Rooney's 45-minute cameo gave way to new-boy Hernandez, whose pace alone unsettles defenders and who came so close to releasing fellow substitute Berbatov with a sublime reverse pass after initially being picked out by that man Scholes.
Everything about Hernandez's move from Mexico so far has been positive. The one fear was, rather like Diego Forlan, whose otherwise stellar career will be scarred by those 27 games he took to score for the Red Devils, the man dubbed Chicharito would take too long to get off the mark.
But the kind of goal Forlan would have killed for, a mis-hit shot that ricocheted into his face, bounced into the Chelsea net from Valencia's cross 14 minutes from time.
It was harsh on Chelsea, who had just gone close through Kalou, Michael Essien and Ashley Cole.
Kalou did eventually beat Van der Sar but a frenetic spell of attacking failed to bring further reward and Berbatov's deft lob from Nani's cross ended any hope of a comeback.
|12||J. Obi Mikel|
|Coach: C. Ancelotti|
for J. Obi Mikel 60'
for N. Anelka 61'
for F. Malouda 73'
for Paulo Ferreira 79'
for A. Cole 79'
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