Manchester United beat Chelsea to show title intentionsJanuary 12th, 2009 - 1:15 pm ICT by IANS
London, Jan 12 (DPA) Manchester United made a huge statement of their title intentions when they beat Chelsea 3-0 at Old Trafford to cut the gap on leaders Liverpool to five points.Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov scored the goals Sunday as champions United moved back to third, one point behind Chelsea and five points behind Liverpool, with two games in hand on both.
“Getting the goal at half-time certainly made the difference,” United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.
“They had to chase a bit in the second half. They made a substitution in bringing on (Nicolas) Anelka, and that opened up the midfield for us.
“It was a great night for us.”
Chelsea could have gone to within one point of Liverpool with victory but they were second-best throughout as United signalled their title intent in emphatic style.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardoi Carvalho were among several players booked in a high-tempo first half, which looked set to stay scoreless until a dramatic last minute.
Ronaldo thought he had headed his side in front when he nodded the ball into the net from a Ryan Giggs corner, but the linesmen ruled that the corner had to be retaken, even though replays showed Rooney had already rolled the ball outside the corner semi-circle.
When it was re-taken, though, Berbatov flicked the ball and Vidic, arriving late at the far post, headed down and past Petr Cech.
Chelsea needed to chase the game in the second half but United always looked the more likely to score again and Rooney, who was superb throughout, doubled their lead on 63 minutes with the second goal after a great cross from Patrice Evra.
That was the end of Chelsea’s resistance and United rounded off a hugely successful afternoon when Berbatov arrived unmarked to side-foot home Ronaldo’s free kick three minutes from the end.
United can now cut the gap between Liverpool and themselves to just two points by beating Wigan Athletic Wednesday in one of their two games in hand.
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted the defeat was a significant blow to his side’s own title hopes.
“I think it has done big damage, very big damage,” he said.
“We didn’t come here to be in this situation today. We came to win the match, so now we need to think about what happened and we have to change something in the future.”
Wigan kept Tottenham Tottenham Hotspur in the relegation zone when they snatched a 1-0 win in the day’s other match.
Maynor Figueroa headed Ryan Taylor’s corner past Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes one minute into injury time to register the Latics’ first ever win over their London rivals at the ninth attempt.
The defeat means Harry Redknapp’s side remain third from bottom with 20 points while Wigan stay seventh on 31 points thanks to their sixth win in seven games.