Game in a sentence
Rafa Benitez’s double substitution in the 52nd minute led to a dominant second half for Chelsea, who overcame an early two goal deficit to enure a replay at Stamford Bridge.
- The chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ rang hollow after Rafa swapped Lampard and Moses for Hazard and Mikel. The Belgian playmaker was immense, scoring a great goal in the 59th minute.
- Oscar set up countryman Ramires for the equalizer in the 68th minute. It was a well taken strike by the Brazilian but Manchester United’s defense in the second half was atrocious. The goal was made on the counter attack –huzzah– spurred on by United’s inability to string more than two passes together.
- Wayne Rooney started with Javier Hernandez up front. Relegated to the bench, surely Robin Van Persie is on the outs with Alex Ferguson. Whinging about the muckrakers in the British Press is easy fodder, but seriously, give it a rest. Read this piece by Daniel Taylor in the Guardian instead.
- Hernandez opened the scoring in the 5th minute with a brilliant header. Michael Carrick floated in a perfectly weighted ball behind Gary Cahill and César Azpilicueta. Not sure what Petr Cech was doing.
- Wayne Rooney’s free kick goal six minutes later encapsulated an awful half for the visitors. David Luiz failed to get a touch on what was surely a pass, one that found the back of the net thanks to more Cech meandering.
- Chelsea’s keeper redeemed himself, a little bit at least, in the 25th minute, stopping a Rooney shot and then recovering to parry a wayward clearance attempt by Luiz.
- Benitez is a world class masochist. Chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ paired with some other NSFW-ish ones left the loneliest man in England with some time to reflect. He showed embittered Chelsea supporters he kind of does know what he is doing. On his way off, Frank Lampard made a face that led to some hilarious speculation on the part of football scribes, mainly focusing on the whole ‘Lampard’s face says it all’ narrative. Frank was useless today. If anything Benitez should be chastised for not making a change earlier.
- Once again Carrick was great. He was United’s best player against Real Madrid and put in another solid performance this afternoon. Along with Rio Ferdinand, Carrick was one of the few Red Devils on their game for 90 minutes.
- Chelsea deserved to win and almost did in the latter stages of the second half. Juan Mata had an excellent chance in the 89th minute, controlling a pass from Luiz, settling it down and turning towards goal. David De Gea made a fantastic save. The Spanish keeper made relatively routine saves on Hazard and Fernando Torres in extra time.
- Speaking of Torres, along with the ‘Benitez out’ crap, can we place a moratorium on the Fernando ‘really needs a goal here’ stuff? Of course he does. His team did. The game was tied.
- Millwall v. Blackburn was a game nobody wanted to see replayed. I’m more than OK with seeing this one again. United’s excellent first half went for naught after an abysmal showing in the second period. Meanwhile Benitez can enjoy at least one night of limited heckling.
2. Michael Carrick
3. Eden Hazard