Breaking years of tradition this season opener was a peach of a game!
Normally these curtain raisers are as boring as..well raising a curtain, but this one was actually pretty decent but did left me asking myself a few questions. The first of which would have to be, Are you allowed to change the order of the penalty takers in the middle of the shoot-out? That is what Chelsea decided to do so that Salomon Kalou could net the winning spot kick, some seemed to think this was because it was his birthday but that was four days ago!
Both sides took a while to get going and Man United were seemingly in control throughout the first half during which Branislav Ivanovic proved he has great trouble passing a football and Ben Foster showed that his shot stopping is fine but his ability to gather a cross and kick the ball accurately are both severely lacking.
Nani managed to do a good impression of Cristiano Ronaldo for 45 minutes and netted the opener but did little in the second half until he was hauled off after injuring his shoulder. Carlo Ancelotti must have given his team hell in the dressing room as his side were a different proposition in the second half and equalized after Ben Foster went awol trying to get to a punch and Ricardo Carvalho headed into an empty net. Then we had the turning point of the match when Michael Ballack assaulted Patrice Evra with a violent shoulder charge that wouldn’t have been out of place in a WWF bout, referee Chris Foy allowed play to continue and whilst United protested Didier Drogba strode through the defence and cut the ball back to Frank Lampard who put the west London outfit ahead.
What made Foy’s disastrous decision even more hard to fathom was the fact that just ten minutes earlier the situation was reversed and Evra fairly won the ball from the German midfielder and was through on goal with support either side of him, when the referee decided to blow his whistle and get attention for Ballack who was in fact perfectly fine.
Michael Owen came on, did nothing and got himself booked for deliberately handling the ball then Ryan Giggs put through Wayne Rooney with a peach of a pass in stoppage time and the England man gleefully put the ball past Petr Cech taking the game to penalties which Chelsea easily won 4-1 scoring a succession of expertly put away efforts whilst both Giggs and Evra hit woeful efforts straight down the middle.