Jan 11 – Could proved to be the turning point for the English Premier League for the 2008/2009 season. First Liverpool shot blanks at Stoke City and were held to a goalless draw after manager Rafael Benitez made some uncalled personal attacks on Sir Alex Ferguson only three days earlier in a lame attempt to rattle the Manchester United squad before the big day clash with Chelsea. Clearly from the outburst from Benitez showed that Liverpool feared Manchester United most amongst the top three rivals.
Then Chelsea’s manager Luis Felipe Scolari then announced that Chelsea knows how to neutralise Cristiano Ronaldo as they have three defenders one on midfielder who play along side Ronaldo in the Portuguese national team and they know how to take him out of the game. Deco, Jose Bosingwa, Ricardo Carvalho and Paula Ferreira are all set and ready to take on Cristiano Ronaldo. Coming to Old Trafford with their unbeaten away record and a wisp of arrogance, Chelsea thought that they will end the Red Devils’ title ambitions right in front of their own crowd.
Cristiano Ronaldo played and did his artistic runs up and down the flanks. Chelsea players were throwing themselves at him. Stop Ronaldo, Stop Ronaldo was Chelsea’s main objective. Ronaldo played to their tune. Come and get me, come and get me! Ronaldo taunted.
Chelsea thought they were doing right for they kept Ronaldo at bay for 45 minutes. It was stoppage time. Ryan Giggs took the corner. Where is Ronaldo? Giggs wasn’t passing to Ronaldo. He crossed to Berbatov. Berbatov flicked it toward Vidic who headed home past a helpless Petr Cech. Goal No 1.
After the break, Chelsea tried to go for broke by bring in Nicholas Anelka for Deco. While Nicholas Anelka provided more firepower upfront, Gary Neville, Jonathan Evans, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Erva managed to contain the Chelsea strikers, limitting them to only desperate long distance shots.
While all attention was on Ronaldo, Patrice Evra broke through the left flank in the 66th minute and cross a perfect for Wayne Rooney to stab home Goal No 2.
Chelsea by now know that they were beaten and it would take a miracle for them to get back into the game. With the back their back broken, Chelsea tried but could never threaten Edwin Van Der Saar in anyway. As Chelsea became more desperate, their tackles went wild with John Terry being booked in the 80th minutes and Julio Beletti in the 86th minute. Beletti’s foul provided the final platform for Cristiano Ronaldo for they could mark in in open play but in a deadball situation, Ronaldo is king. Ronaldo centered a precise freekick for Dimitar Berbatov to push the ball past Petr Cech for Goal No 3.
What a splendid win for the Red Devils. The final score Manchester United 3 Chelsea 0.
For Sir Alex and his boys, it is other 3 points and they have proven that Manchest United is a team. It is not about Cristiano Ronaldo. It is all about Manchester United.
But for Chelsea, it was their first away loss of the season. It was also the worst defeat, Chelsea has suffered since the 2005/2006 season. No one has beaten them for more two goals in the last three years. While Jan 11 may signal the awakening of the Champions’ march to the title, it could also be the day the superiority of Chelsea is finally erased forever.