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Chelsea 1-3 Manchester United


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blueflags.jpgChelsea's early season woes continued with another below-par showing in their Community Shield defeat to Manchester United.

The Blues went a goal behind after Wayne Rooney's sumptuous cross was finished by Luis Antonio Valencia, after earlier going close when Branislav Ivanovic forced a good save out of Edwin van der Sar. However United rallied and added a second when Javier Hernandez slotted home for a début goal.

Chelsea were not yet finished and after good opportunities for both Daniel Sturridge and Salomon Kalou to score, it was the Ivorian who restored the faith as he fired home the rebound from a Sturridge effort.

Didier Drogba - far from his match-fit best - then scuffed wide with the angle of the goal against him, but a combination of Chelsea's commitment to attack and haphazard goalkeeping by Henrique Hilario allowed Dimitar Berbatov to chip home.

The result will offer some form of consolation for United, who fell short to the champions by a single point at the end of last season. For Carlo Ancelotti, however, there is evidence that Chelsea are far from their double-winning best, looking lethargic in attack and sloppy at the back.

That being said, Chelsea dominated much of the match and their neat passing was controlled and measured, if a little negative at times. Nonetheless, the Blues certainly need to sure up their backline ahead of the start of the new Premier League season, and will be aided by the imminent return of influential duo Alex and Petr Cech.

Neither side started with any of their new signings, although Yossi Benayoun would make his Chelsea début, and Chris Smalling would join Hernandez in making his United bow.

And Chelsea, having controlled the tempo during the opening exchanges, were the first to seriously threaten. Moments after Hilario had saved well from Valencia, Nicolas Anelka tested van der Sar before Branislav Ivanovic later produced a good save from the Dutch goalkeeper with a towering header.

Chelsea were dominating possession but were finding clear-cut opportunities few and far between, as Michael Essien headed over a Lampard free-kick. At the other end, Ivanovic had to be alert to clear Michael Owen's lofted pass and Rooney rolled wide of Hilario's far post as United sprang to life.

And it was Sir Alex Ferguson's side who opened the scoring minutes before half time when Rooney latched on to Paul Scholes' fabulous long ball. With just Terry to beat, Rooney teased the ball into the area, allowing Valencia to slot home beautifully.

Essien then wastefully fired wide as Chelsea went in behind at the break, with much more required from the players. The Blues had dominated possession and edged it on chances, but United had made the breakthrough as they had done in last year's fixture.

There were early indications of an improvement in the second half as Malouda almost caught out van der Sar with a clever turn and shot which had the Dutchman scrambling, whilst Kalou again found the United keeper a difficult obstacle to beat.

Chances were coming thick and fast for Chelsea, and just after Essien again fired wide, the best chance so far of the second half arrived. Substitute Daniel Sturridge's shot was only parried by van der Sar, and Ashley Cole might have found Kalou in space but instead opted to shoot, allowing the Dutchman to gather. It was a guilt-edged opportunity.

But as Chelsea sought to equalise, United extended their lead. Valencia again made a mug of the Chelsea backline; having beaten Cole, he played a glorious ball that took Hilario and Ivanovic out of the equation, allowing Hernandez to - quite literally - bundle the ball home.

Five minutes later the Blues should have made it 2-1 but van der Sar impressively stopped Sturridge with a fine parry. Sturridge had come in from the flank and been found imperiously by the marauding Essien, but his shot was too close to the keeper who saved well.

But less than sixty seconds later Chelsea had reduced the defecit through Kalou, who fired home after van der Sar could only push the ball to the Ivorian's feet after another Sturridge effort. Didier Drogba - another substitute - then hacked wide before he had a volley blocked by Nemanja Vidic, the United skipper.

But as Chelsea poured forward they left themselves overly-exposed, allowing Berbatov to steal in to lob Hilario and make it 3-1 to United. A layer of gloss had been applied to the scoreline, offering it a convincing tone as United played out the final minutes of a deserved victory.

___________________________________________________________________

Chelsea (4-3-3): Hilario; Ferreira (Bruma 78), Ivanovic, Terry ©, Cole (Zhirkov 78); Essien, Mikel (Drogba 59), Lampard; Kalou, Anelka (Sturridge 59), Malouda (Benayoun 72).

Manchester United (4-4-2): Van der Sar; O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Fabio (Smalling 70); Valencia, Scholes (Giggs 79), Carrick (Fletcher 79), Park (Nani 46); Rooney (Hernandex (46), Owen (Berbatov 46).

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Manchester United's number 25, Luis Antonio VALENCIA

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Disappointing result but not too surprising.Our defence needs sorting,we've conceded too many goals in the last games and we should stop blaming just our keeper.Too many awful individual perforformances today Kalou,Benayoun,A.Cole,Lamps,Terry,Drogba,Anelka and Malouda were all sub par.

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Okay, despite the scoreline looking bad I think to say we were "battered" is very harsh. We were always in the game, especially when we made it 2-1, it's unfortunate Berba scored in the last minute because I felt we had another goal within us. It's not the worse performance we've put in, the goalkeeper situation came into it again, Hilario had a better game but I still think we need a better 2nd keeper.

Everyone sitting there around me was very disappointed with Kalou. We saw him cause United trouble but that was it, he didn't make many chances for himself at all and for him to score was quite lucky (we all felt). Though we are glad he did whistling.gif

We also thought Carlo took a positive risk taking off Anelka and bringing on Sturridge, it shows Carlo is serious about promoting the youth.

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Good report Alex but wouldnt say we were 'battered'. Could quite easily have been 3-2 or 4-2 to us, the 3-1 flattered them. If there were weak points it was the defence which with Alex Cech and Boswinga due back any time soon should allay any fragility.

West Brom will feel the force of the real Chelsea after this fundraising pre season friendly.....

PS highlight was the lone Chels fan gesturing to the upper tier of celebrating yernited for ten minutes :)

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