UEFA Champions League 2008 Final (Moscow): Manchester United vs. Chelsea

Manchester United win 6-5 on penalties. 1-1 at the end of half-time till the end of extra-time. Scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo 26′ and Lampard 45′

Manchester United FC vs. Chelsea FC
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Wednesday 21 May 2008 – 19.45 (GMT)
Attendance: 67,310

Drogba gets a red card on the 116 minute.

Not only that but Ryan Giggs takes over Sir Bobby Charlton’s 758-game feat to become United’s all-time record appearance holder, a Legend.

PENALTY SHOOT-OUT
TEVEZ SCORES Man Utd 1-0 Chelsea
BALLACK SCORES Man Utd 1-1 Chelsea
CARRICK SCORES Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea
BELLETTI SCORES Man Utd 2-2 Chelsea
RONALDO MISSES Man Utd 2-2 Chelsea
LAMPARD SCORES Man Utd 2-3 Chelsea
HARGREAVES SCORES Man Utd 3-3 Chelsea
A COLE SCORES Man Utd 3-4 Chelsea
NANI SCORES Man Utd 4-4 Chelsea
TERRY MISSES Man Utd 4-4 Chelsea
ANDERSON SCORES Man Utd 5-4 Chelsea
KALOU SCORES Man Utd 5-5 Chelsea
GIGGS SCORES Man Utd 6-5 Chelsea
ANELKA MISSES Man Utd 6-5 Chelsea

View: Champions League Final [BBC.co.uk]

Almost ten months after launching their season with a penalties victory over Chelsea FC, Manchester United FC repeated the feat in the UEFA Champions League final with Edwin van der Sar saving from Nicolas Anelka to take the trophy to Old Trafford for the third time.

High drama
United had prevailed 3-0 in the FA Community Shield shoot-out on 5 August after a 1-1 draw and were on course to be crowned European champions again when Cristiano Ronaldo headed them into a 26th-minute lead. Chelsea equalised 19 minutes later through Frank Lampard and appeared more likely to find a winner thereafter, Didier Drogba and Lampard striking the woodwork. The former became the second player in three years to be red-carded in a final for slapping Nemanja Vidić in extra time, yet Petr Čech’s save from Ronaldo’s penalty put the trophy within reach of the ten men only for captain John Terry to fire wide the potentially clinching kick. Three conversions later, Van der Sar outwitted Anelka and United were celebrating again.

Crossing chances
With the teams having the best two defences in this season’s Premier League it was perhaps little surprise both began cautiously, although Nemanja Vidić was twice forced to head clear promising left-wing crosses into the United goalmouth while Owen Hargreaves was a lively presence down United’s right flank. The England midfielder gave his international team-mate Ashley Cole – fully recovered from an ankle injury suffered in training on Tuesday – a testing early examination, delivering two dangerous balls into the area and almost getting on the end of Ronaldo’s left-wing centre.

Ronaldo delight
From the Portuguese international’s second significant contribution of the evening, United were ahead. Right-back Wes Brown played a one-two with Paul Scholes on the right touchline and cut inside to deliver a deep cross to the far post, where Ronaldo peeled away from Michael Essien to nod his first goal against Chelsea just inside Petr Čech’s right-hand post. Michael Ballack drove over from the edge of the box as Chelsea sought an instant response, but at the half-hour mark the London club had managed just 38 per cent of the possession.

Lampard leveller
For all that, however, United’s lead might have disappeared almost as soon as it had arrived but for the reflexes of the 37-year-old Edwin van der Sar. The goalkeeper made an instinctive save from point-blank range to keep out Rio Ferdinand’s inadvertent header under pressure from Ballack yet Chelsea could have fallen two behind within seconds. Wayne Rooney’s fabulous long pass launched a counterattack from which Čech made fine stops to deny first Carlos Tévez’s header then Michael Carrick’s follow-up shot. Tévez next passed up another presentable opening from Rooney’s low right-wing centre and Chelsea took advantage on the stroke of half-time. Lampard reacted quickest to slip the ball beyond Van der Sar after Essien’s speculative long-range effort had struck both Vidić and Ferdinand.

All change
Having got back into the game, Chelsea were eager to build on their equaliser as the second half started and might have been in front within ten minutes as Florent Malouda set Essien away down the right. The Ghanaian expertly turned away from two defenders on the edge of the area, only to direct a left-foot attempt too high, before Ballack sliced wide from distance as the United defence parted invitingly. The German and his midfield partner Lampard were steadily growing in influence, the latter demanding that first Vidić then Ferdinand clear away promising balls into the box.

Off the post
Before kick-off, the United end of the ground had displayed a series of cards spelling out one simple message – Believe – with the ‘i’ replaced by an image of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. That conviction now seemed exclusively Chelsea’s, however, and they came closer than ever to a second goal with 12 minutes left as Didier Drogba, out of nothing, curled a shot from 25 metres beyond Van der Sar but off the goalkeeper’s left-hand upright.

Extra-time tension
Ryan Giggs came on after 87 minutes to make his record-breaking 759th United appearance, yet with tension setting in neither side was willing to risk defeat and commit men forward. Chelsea continued to look more enterprising in the initial exchanges of extra time and rattled the woodwork again as Ashley Cole and Ballack brilliantly set up Lampard for an improvised shot that came back off the bar with Van der Sar beaten. John Terry then blocked Giggs’s goalbound strike after Patrice Evra’s low cross had taken Čech out of the game. The ebb and flow of attacks continued, with the only advantage gained being United’s after Drogba was dismissed for slapping Vidić.

View: Overview [UEFA.com]

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