Manchester United holds off Chelsea, Barcelona coasts in Champions League

  Manu (reuters)

By JOHN BOSCHINI

Chelsea's dream of being the first London club to win the Champions League will have to wait another year as Manchester United held serve at Old Trafford with a 2-1 victory to advance to the Champions League semifinals 3-1 on aggregate.

It's the fourth time United has reached the semifinals in the past five seasons, winning it all in 2008. Both teams came close in the opening half an hour but Frank Lampard put his open shot too close to Edwin van der Sar and Jaiver Hernandez's goal was called off when the Mexican was ruled inches offside.

United broke the deadlock before halftime when Hernandez, this time onside, directed Ryan Giggs' cross past Peter Cech in the 43rd minute.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti caused a stir before kickoff when under-performing striker Fernando Torres was preferred to Didier Drogba, who started on the bench. It was another disappointing outing for Torres and the Spaniard was replaced by Drogba at halftime still without a goal for his new club.

Down 2-0 on aggregate, Chelsea pushed men forward in the second half. Its task was made even more difficult when Ramires was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 70th minute. Despite being down a man, Drogba made a game of it with a clinical finish in the 77th minute.

A second goal would have put Chelsea through on away goals but Park Ji-Sung answered for Manchester United just seconds later to seal the victory.

Barcelona strolled to a 1-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine courtesy of a Lionel Messi goal.

The second leg of the two team's quarterfinal draw was never in much doubt as Barcelona thrashed the Eastern Europeans 5-1 at the Camp Nou last week.

Shakhtar threatened early on when Douglas Costa was put through on goal but Victor Valdes stood tall to keep the game scoreless. Barcelona eventually took control of possession and Messi opened the scoring with a superb strike from 15 yards out in the 43d minute.

It was Messi's 48th goal of the season in all competitions and means Barcelona will likely face arch-rivals Real Madrid in the semifinals. It was the first home defeat in two and a half years for Shakhtar.

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What did you think of today's results? Impressed with Manchester United's victory? Is Barcelona unstoppable?

Share your thoughts below?

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19 Responses to Manchester United holds off Chelsea, Barcelona coasts in Champions League

  1. Matt S says:

    Torres poor run of form continues… really makes me wonder what is going on with the player. I understand needing time to settle with a new team in a new city but I would have expected more from him by now. He has had a few good shots on goal over the last few games but nothing that makes me feel he will ever justify his 50 million pound transfer.

    Is it confidence, injury, pressure, or is he just not the player he was 2 season ago?

  2. spencer says:

    He doesn’t look inspired at all, it doesn’t look like he wants it. Which is funny because thats why he said he wanted to leave Liverpool because he wanted to be with a team that wanted it more.

  3. Taylor says:

    i think a lot of his success at Liverpool had to do with the fact that the team as a whole was so good. He and Gerrard had perfect chemistry with one another, and if you ask me that was Gerrard’s best season in a long time as well. when they were both on top form, they were absolutely unstoppable. now, after a few injuries and being overworked, Torres has not found that same form, and couldn’t link with Gerrard as the two seemed to always be fit while the other was injured. now, i think it is just a lack of confidence and his head isn’t right. maybe he is thinking too much about living up to the price tag. i think he can really get back into form with a playmaker behind him, which, if you ask me, Chelsea just really does not have right now

  4. Cromulent says:

    Park is my fave MU player, still delivering value at 30.

  5. A says:

    Come on SBI…

    Messi just broke a hallowed record and no mention of it? 48 goals is the Barcelona single season record.

    Now, about Torres. He’s in a run of poor finishing form… and that’s it. But he was doomed on Chelsea from the start. This team is tactically probably the worst team in the EPL. Almost all of their goals are long range blasts or a long ball to Drogba that he just muscles someone away and shoots hard.

    For a finesse player like Torres and a brute force team like Chelsea to mix only goes to show that 1. money cannot buy a team, and 2. that Ancelloti is a poor manager.

  6. timmytwoshoezzz says:

    You assume that Ancelotti even wanted Torres. With a guy like Drogba, I could find many better ways to spend 50 million pounds

  7. Jack says:

    Torres’ form is unfortunate, but I think that it’s only a part of the larger problems that Chelsea has. They haven’t looked very good all season–certainly not like they are the defending league title holders. People are focusing on Torres because he’s the one who’s made the news (although I agree that it was a poor choice to start him), but even if he had good form, that wouldn’t change the fact that the Chelsea midfield looked like a mess for much of the game.

    As of right now, though, it seems like the question is whether Ancelotti will hang on to his job for what’s left of the season or if he’s packing his bags right now. Either way, I can’t see him sticking around through the summer.

  8. A says:

    Regardless of Torres/Drogba, Ancelloti is still a very poor coach.

    That midfield/defense is very poor for the price tag.

  9. Paul, North jersey says:

    A poor coach with 2 CL titles. How quickly people forget.

  10. ManicMessiah says:

    The greatest trick the Red Devils ever played was convincing the world they were crap.

  11. SoccerInATL says:

    Not much is made of it but how many more chances is Lampard going to let slip away? The guy has 1 or 2 wide open looks at goal each Chelsea game that he manages to screw up and most the time hit right at the goalie. Thats not the Lampard of old. Anyways, I am happy to see my manu boys go through, but as nervous as Chelsea made me feel during the games you always sort of knew they would mess up their chances. 50million Torres gets in good positions like 5million little pea but unlike chicarito he is in such bad form he squanders most chances. I think that is down to him feeling so much mental pressure by everyone and when he goes to shoot it slows him down enough to make him always seem off rhythm. Weird for him

  12. DC Josh says:

    Anyone interested in doing some YouTube research? Has Chicharito scored a goal this season from outside the 6-yard box?

  13. Josh says:

    Torres seems like a good kid, but clearly he needs to develop A LOT of mental toughness. Everybody has a run of bad form, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a player that talented go that cold for that long.

    Before anybody says “Jozy Altidore,” let’s be honest: as talented as Jozy is relative to the American forward pool, Torres is on another level entirely.

  14. Dale says:

    Does it matter? the kid has 20 goals with Man-u in all competitions, he plays no different than when he played with Chivas(they never hyped him up though) Take a look

    link to youtube.com

    …has anyone seen Erick Torres that 18 year old that plays for chivas right know? Torres has 7 goals in 12 matches in his debut season and he seems to be heading the right direction as well.

  15. pux90mex says:

    Erick Torres is getting a lot of hype right now in Mexico but I think it’s a byproduct of the Chicharito effect. He was from Chivas and is doing great therefore anyone from Chivas gets an extra boost in publicity and reputation. Don’t get me wrong, Torres might turn out to be fabulous, and that goal against Club America on Sunday was class, but I want to see him do it for a bit before we put him in the same breath as Lil Pea.

  16. Pico says:

    Since Torres seems so out of form and not interested, can the RB sign him up to pair with Henry?

  17. Dawsaw says:

    Nah he just needs a loan to Turkey ;)

  18. LoS says:

    yes the tying goal against marseille in the champions league… just inside the 18