Manchester United Edges Chelsea on Penalties
- By Robert Millward
- May. 22 2008 00:00
Van der Sar dived to his right to block the spot kick from Nicolas Anelka in rain at the Luzhniki stadium to give the Red Devils their third European Cup title — 10 days after United edged Chelsea to win the Premier League title.
"That's the first penalty shootout I've ever won," said United manager Alex Ferguson, who took his haul of titles with the club to 22 in as many seasons since he joined September 1986.
In a final that included a red card and all the flare-ups usually associated with meetings between English powerhouses, Cristiano Ronaldo put United ahead in the 26th minute. Frank Lampard equalized in the final minute of the first half.
In extra time, Chelsea hit the post and the bar before goalkeeper Petr Cech saved Ronaldo's penalty in the shootout. But Blues captain John Terry, stepping up for a chance to win the title, slipped and hit the right post.
"I was thinking he's going to score," Rio Ferdinand said of Terry, his defensive teammate on the England squad. "He's a great penalty taker normally but he slipped. Unfortunately someone's got to lose and tonight it's them."
Anderson and Ryan Giggs — making a club record 759th appearance — then hit the target for United.
Chelsea finished the game with 10 men after Didier Drogba was sent off in the 116th minute for petulantly tapping Nemanja Vidic in the face with his hand.
Carlos Tevez, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Nani scored United's other kicks, while Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Lampard, Ashley Cole and Salomon Kalou scored for Chelsea.
"Twelve years ago I lost on penalties and we've won it now," said Van der Sar, who won the title with Ajax in 1995 but lost in a shootout to Juventus a year later. "It's unbelievable. We deserve it. It's fantastic."
While his teammates ran to congratulate Van der Sar in front of the United fans behind the goal, Ronaldo lay face down in the center circle. Eventually he got up to join in the celebrations.
By contrast, Terry was in tears at the end and was hugged and consoled by coach Avram Grant, who appeared to throw his runners-up medal into the Chelsea crowd.
Ferguson, who also led United to the Champions League title in 1999, also won two Scottish league titles, the Scottish Cup and Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen.
"When we missed the penalty kick [from Ronaldo] we thought we were in trouble but I thought we deserved the win," said Ferguson, who won his second European Cup in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster that killed eight United players.
"We had the best chances. In the second half they had more control but in extra time we were better. It's a fantastic achievement."
Chelsea, playing with Russian owner Roman Abramovich in the stands, stifled United's efforts to create moves in the first 25 minutes and the action got stuck in the midfield, but Ronaldo scored his 42nd goal of the season in the 26th.
Poorly marked by Michael Essien, Ronaldo headed in a cross from Wes Brown, who had neatly swapped passes with Paul Scholes on the right wing.
Scholes had remained on the field despite a serious injury to his nose. The midfielder was hurt while jumping for a high ball with Claude Makelele six minutes earlier and emerged with blood pouring from his nose. After treatment, he was able to carry on and played a key part in the United goal.
Chelsea almost equalized in the 34th when Van der Sar had to make a reflex save from a header by his own defender, Ferdinand. The United captain was under pressure from Ballack as they chased a headed pass from Drogba and, when the ball came off his head, the Netherlands goalkeeper pushed it over the bar.
But Cech then made a reaction save off a shot from Tevez in the 35th and recovered to push a follow-up shot from Carrick over the bar.
Chelsea equalized in the final minute of the half when a shot from Essien hit United defenders Vidic and Ferdinand and the ball dropped to the unmarked Lampard, who scored from 12 meters.
After his players ran out for the second half, Ferguson waited in the tunnel to have words with referee Lubos Michel. He appeared to be unhappy at the gamesmanship of Drogba, who was walking alongside them.
With Essien pushing often forward into his usual midfield role, Chelsea took control in the first spell of the second half and Ballack went close with a run and 25-meter shot which flew past the post. United, by contrast, kept losing the ball in midfield and put virtually no pressure on the Chelsea defense.
Drogba almost put Chelsea ahead in the 78th minute with a curling shot from 25 meters which beat Van der Sar and hit the far post.
Lampard hit the bar in the fourth minute of injury time with a left foot shot from 15 meters as Chelsea continued to threaten. But Terry rescued the Blues when he got his head in the way of a goalbound shot from Giggs, whose 759th appearance for the Red Devils beat the record he shared with Bobby Charlton.
The much criticized playing surface held up well despite lengthy showers. The Luzhniki stadium's artificial field was replaced with natural turf just for this game but the surface looked patchy. Although players complained of cramping legs late in the game, the field stayed intact.