It is Manchester United who are through to the semi-finals after a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford last night which gave them a 3-1 aggregate win over Chelsea. It was by no means a classic encounter but United fans will not care one bit.
The Chelsea manager had threatened to spring a surprise on United but instead opted to start with Torres as the lone striker with Lampard playing in a slightly advanced role behind the Spaniard. It did not work and although they created several chances early on it was United who went into the lead just before half-time.
Once again it was the sublime Ryan Giggs who opened up the Chelsea defence to supply the final ball to Javier Hernandez. The young Mexican now has 18 goals in his first season in English football which is a truly remarkable effort. However, all the credit should go to the Welsh wizard who was yet again the best player on the pitch. Deployed in central midfield he is able to manoeuvre the ball around far better than any of his younger team-mates.
The second half brought much puffing and panting from Chelsea who had replaced the much maligned Torres with Drogba at half-time. The Ivorian striker clearly thought it was him against the world as he continued to run blindly into a wall of United defenders. However, with 13 minutes remaining he scored to set up a potentially crucial last 10 minutes.
When you first start playing football you are taught and advised that the most dangerous time for a side is just after they have scored. Sure enough United kicked off and scored almost instantly, the game was over, the tie was over and Chelsea were beaten.
Their ‘obsession’ as Ferguson called it is over and several of the Chelsea team should not be playing next year. They need a complete overhaul if they are to seriously challenge for major honours next season. Most of the side have played in the 4-3-3 formation but playing Torres on his own up front and hammering long balls up to him is never going to be rewarded. They have to get some creative players in to liven them up, everything last night was too one paced, too predictable and simply not good enough.
Meanwhile United advance to the semi-finals where they look likely to face Schalke. It is not a great United side we are seeing at the moment, similarly to Chelsea they need more creative players and they have to address the fact that Giggs may still be their best and most influential player. They are incredibly well organised and tough to beat as they always are under Ferguson.
It is concerning for football though that such an average team could be on the verge of a treble; fortunately for football fans Barcelona remain in the tournament.