Carlo Ancelotti’s future in doubt after selection backfires and Euro dream dies for another year
MANCHESTER UTD 2 vs CHELSEA 1
Man Utd win 3-1 on aggregate
CHELSEA manager Carlo Ancelotti admits he may have made a fatal error of judgment in selecting Fernando Torres ahead of Didier Drogba in last night’s Champions League quarter-final defeat at Old Trafford.
Drogba, who was brought on at the start of the second-half in place of the ineffectual Spaniard, gave 10-man Chelsea brief hope with a smartly taken equaliser 13 minutes from time, but Ji-Sung Park responded just 21 seconds later to send United into their fourth Champions League semi-final in the last five years.
With a trophyless season now an inevitability, Ancelotti accepts his future at Stamford Bridge is out of his hands, but has urged Chelsea’s fans to keep patience with Torres, who has now gone 11 games without a goal for his new club since a £50m move in January.
Asked if his decision to keep faith with Torres, seen to be a favourote of owner Roman Abramovich, was a mistake, Ancelotti said: “Maybe. Could be, but I thought a lot of time to take this decision. I preferred to start with Fernando for this kind of game, with these kind of tactics, but Didier played very well in the second-half. He did better than Torres in his 45 minutes. We have to believe in Torres though. We have to wait until he improves.”
On the likelihood of him being Chelsea manager at the start of next season, Ancelotti added: “I don’t know. It’s not the kind of question a manager can answer. I’m not concerned. I have to work. I have to try to do my best. It’s not my decision whether I stay or not.”
Defeat in the first leg at Stamford Bridge dictated that Chelsea would need to take the game to United and they dominated large swathes of the opening exchanges with Frank Lampard missing the best chance of the half.
At the other end Javier Hernandez had a brilliant diving header ruled out for offside, but two minutes before the break he got the benefit of the doubt from the linesman when he converted Ryan Giggs’ cross for his 18th goal of an increasingly impressive debut season at Old Trafford.
Chelsea’s sluggish start to the second-half was typified by Ramires’ needless tackle on Nani which reaped his second caution and a subsequent red card, before Drogba breathed unexpected life into the contest, only for Park, with a left-footed drive, to instantly dash hopes of a comeback.
How Chelsea’s hopes of silverware were snuffed out at Old Trafford, as Man Utd kept alive their dreams of the Treble.
27mins: Hernandez taps in the opener after a cross from the outstanding Giggs
70mins:?Chelsea’s prospects nosedive as Ramires is sent off for a second booking
77mins:?Sub Drogba offers hope with a smart volley to equalise on the night
78mins:?Seconds later United are back in front, Giggs feeding Park to fire past Cech