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A night to remember in Moscow
by Paul Kennedy, May 22nd, 2008 7AM

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[MAN. UTD.-CHELSEA HIGHLIGHT REEL] For a 1-1 game, decided in a shootout, Wednesday's UEFA Champions League final was jammed pack with excitement. Manchester United looked to run away with the game in the first half, but Chelsea came back and had the momentum in the second half. The overtime produced chances for both teams, leading up to the dramatic turn of events in the shootout that made a hero out of long-serving United winger Ryan Giggs and a goat out of Chelsea captain John Terry and earned Manchester United its second Champions League trophy under Sir Alex Ferguson.

21st minute. Paul Scholes collided with Chelsea's Claude Makelele, earning both players yellow cards from Slovak referee Lubos Michel.

"When he came off at halftime he was very groggy and needed some tablets before going back on for the second half," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "Tonight he got what he should have got in 1999-a winner's medal."

Scholes missed the 1999 championship after being suspended.

26th minute. United took the lead when Cristiano Ronaldo scored on a header that he imperiously nodded into the far post of the Chelsea goal for his 42nd goal of the season.

The goal was set up by fine work between Scholes and Wes Brown, who broke free of his marker to loft in the ball to the far side the penalty area, where Ronaldo broke free of Michael Essien and left his Ghanaian marker flat-footed.

35th minute.
Goalie Petr Cech kept Chelsea in the game with two brilliant saves -- first on Carlos Tevez's diving header off a  brilliant Ronaldo cross, then on Michael Carrick's shot from the edge of the penalty area following John Terry's feeble clearance.

45th minute.
The complexion of the game changed shortly before halftime when Essien's shot deflected in the penalty area, and Frank Lampard was clear to slot the ball past keeper Edwin van der Sar. Lucky as it was, Chelsea went into halftime tied at 1-1.

"We were frustrated at halftime," Lampard said. "The players spoke, the manager spoke, we started passing the ball and in the second half we felt comfortable."

78th minute. Didier Drogba came within inches of putting Chelsea ahead when his curling shot from 25 yards hit the outside of the right post.

94th minute. Lampard had a chance to win the game for Chelsea, but his shot, which had van der Sar beaten, hit the crossbar and bounced out.

"Nobody could deny that after the first 30 minutes we dominated the game, we hit the post, we hit the bar, we were the stronger of the two teams," said Lampard, whose mother died late last month and who admitted his Chelsea duties had kept him focused.

100th minute. Ryan Giggs, who set a United record with his 759th appearance, breaking the record he shared with Bobby Charlton, nearly scored as he did on the final day of the EPL season that brought United the title. With Cech beaten, Giggs took Patrice Evra's pass and fired a shot that Terry headed away.

"What appearing in tonight's game proved is that I was right to remain at United throughout my career," said Giggs. "When I first came through, Serie A was the place to be and the best players went there. Now all the great players are playing in England."

116th minute. The turning point of the game? Drogba's red card in the second overtime. Drogba was on the losing end of his battle with United central defender Nemanja Vidic all night, and the Ivorian paid for his frustration when he was sent off for slapping the Serbian.

The slap proved costly as it deprived Chelsea of one of its most dependable penalty takers. It also meant that Terry would need to take the fifth attempt.

The red card might have been the last moment of Drogba's Chelsea. He is rumored to be leaving in the summer.

Shootout-Shot 5. United appeared doomed when Cristiano Ronaldo missed his penalty kick. The young Portuguese star feared his penalty miss would be the worst moment of his life.

"I don't know what to say, I thought we would lose when I missed," Ronaldo, whose feeble kick was easily saved by Cech. "I thought it would be the worst day of my life, but the lads believed and we won it even despite my miss. I'm very proud of them. The penalties are a lottery. I think we deserved it because we played better in the whole game. Now it's the happiest day of my life

Shootout-Shot 10. Terry had a chance to win game for the Blues, but he slipped on the wet surface and hit the post on Chelsea's fifth attempt.

"John Terry's a man's man," said Lampard. "Not many center halves will stand up and say I will take the last penalty because everybody knows that's the one it can all hang on. Nobody can criticize him, certainly not from Chelsea."

Shootout-Shot 14. Van der Sar stopped Frenchman Nicolas Anelka in the seventh round to clinch the victory for United.

The victory was the second for van der Sar, winner of the 1995 Champions League with Ajax. He was playing at Fulham when Ferguson brought him to United to replace young American Tim Howard, who was unable to hold down the starting job.

Van der Sar acknowledged there was a degree of luck to the shootout.

"Life and football can change on small things," the Dutchman said. "If [Terry] hadn't slipped, someone else would have been sitting here."

GAME SUMMARY:
May 21 in Moscow
Man. Utd. 1 Chelsea 1 (Man. Utd. wins 6-5 on penalties). Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 26; Lampard 45.
Man. Utd. -- Van der Sar, Brown (Anderson, 120), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Hargreaves, Scholes (Giggs, 87), Carrick, Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney (Nani, 101).
Chelsea -- Cech, Essien, Carvalho, Terry, A.Cole, Ballack, Makelele (Belletti, 120), Lampard, J.Cole (Anelka, 99), Drogba, Malouda (Kalou, 92).
Red card: Chelsea -- Drogba (116).
Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia).
Att.: 69,500.


 

 



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