Chelsea 0 Manchester United 1
WAYNE Rooney was a TV star once more tonight – this time for all the right reasons as his clinical first-half goal gave Manchester United a Champions League triumph over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Rooney went into the quarter-final first-leg tie still not knowing what his punishment will be for the four-letter outburst at West Ham on Saturday.
But the uncertainty didn’t affect him as he took full advantage of a superb piece of skill by Ryan Giggs to give United their first win at Stamford Bridge in 2002 and put them in pole position to reach the semi-final at Old Trafford next week.
Chelsea are not out of it though.
Indeed, a repeat of the 2-1 success on their last trip to Old Trafford 12 months ago would be enough to send through.
However, they will have to do far better in front of goal –and £50million man Fernando Torres in particular must start scoring after yet another ineffective display ended with an injury-time yellow card for diving.
At Upton Park on Saturday, Rooney completed his hat-trick, then headed straight towards a TV camera to deliver his ill-advised reaction that threatens his place in the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City.
As his first-time effort caressed the base of Petr Cech’s left-hand post and rolled gently into the back of the Chelsea net, he again ran towards the lens.
This time, he stopped short, slid to his knees and waited to be mobbed by ecstatic team-mates.
They had every right too, especially Ryan Giggs given his outrageous contribution.
Now 37, Ferguson has claimed the veteran Welshman could go on for a couple of years yet.
How the United boss must hope that is true. Ferguson could only sit back and admire Giggs’ sublime touches.
As for Chelsea, given Saturday’s draw at Stoke and Inter Milan’s stunning demise to Schalke in the San Siro last night, it is hardly overestimating the situation to say manager Carlo Ancelotti’s job hangs on reaching the final, and for that Torres needs to do what Roman Abramovich paid all that money for.