Until half-time, Chelsea gave as good as they got, albeit without a cutting edge.
Their passing was neat and inventive, little triangles all over the pitch, even if it did not take them in behind a resilient back four. Yet it was their reaction to United’s first goal, from Nemanja Vidic, that exposed the difference in the teams.
United grew in confidence, created better chances, looked utterly assured at the back while Chelsea lost air like a deflated balloon.
Nicolas Anelka arrived to little effect and at the moment Scolari was poised to introduce Juliano Belletti in place of Jose Bosingwa at full back, United scored a second through Rooney and the contest ended.
Seeing his players poring over the news in the papers he seized his moment.
‘See?’ he snarled. ‘That Liverpool lot are celebrating already. They think they have won it.’ All nonsense, of course, the sort of mind games Rafael Benitez clearly thought were being played in public, rather than private; but it did the trick. Manchester United played on Sunday like a team that had a point to prove, that wanted to knock the League leaders off their perch, in true Ferguson style. Chelsea, meanwhile, have long ceased celebrating those autumn days when they played in the style of potential champions.At Old Trafford, that particular party was well and truly over.........
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