For the fourth time in five seasons, Manchester United have sealed passage to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Their semi-final opponent will most likely be German club Schalke, unless Inter Milan figures a way to overcome the “away” goal deficit.
This is the first time, in what seems like forever, that United have even won consecutive games against Chelsea. Over the course of two legs, they played like the better team. They were hungrier, more determined, and were able to match Chelsea’s intensity pound for pound. Whatever they held back from the first leg, they made sure to “leave it all on the field” this time around.
Ryan Giggs once again showed his class setting up both goals, just like he did in the first leg. Even at a ripe age of 37 years, he remains timeless. His passing and creativity are qualities that few in the English game can match. His ability to unlock the Chelsea defense at the right time is probably what stood out most in this encounter.
I don’t even know if there are enough compliments that could describe Ji-Sung Park. Drogba’s equalizer for the Blues had just turned the game on its head for a few moments. The momentum swung in Chelsea’s favour, only for Park to steal it back by scoring the goal that effectively sealed the tie. Coming off a counter attack, Rooney hesitated a little before finding Giggs; who in turn found Park who found the back the of the net.
Chelsea are now headed toward another season without any trophies for the first time since the 2007-2008 season. The last time that happened, there were some personnel changes. I’m not going to speculate on what they will do, but we know things will happen. This was a club that began the season playing what Carlo Ancelotti described as “playstation” football. Looks like it’s time to hit that “reset” button.
United’s first step towards a “treble” starts this weekend with their FA Cup semi-final match against a Manchester City team that got embarrassed by Liverpool on Monday. The Red Devils are finally starting to play some of their best football and will need every single ounce of this momentum, especially with Wayne Rooney serving out his two-game suspension.
It was a great night, a great result and hopefully better things lie ahead.