The all-English quarterfinal kicked off at the Stamford Bridge as Chelsea hosted Premier League rivals Manchester United in the first leg. United had arrived looking for their first win at Stamford Bridge in 10 games stretching back to 2002.
Earlier in the match, Fernando Torres went close with a low right footer, but that fell to the hand of Edwin Van der Sar.
Momentarily, Didier Drogba tested Van der Sar again with a flashing drive, but the Dutch keeper stood firm to parry.
In the 24th minute, the Red Devils, however, opened scoring. Michael Carrick swept a pass into the path of Ryan Giggs, who pulled back to a charging Wayne Rooney, who sidefooted past Petr Cech. 1-0.
The goal was the icing on a particularly tasty cake for the England striker, who looked sharp, committed and absolutely up for the job in hand despite the latest off-field distraction…last weekend involving profanity…and live cameras.
Chelsea could have levelled though. A scramble late in the first half when Drogba hit a post and Frank Lampard’s rebound was cleared off the line at the last moment by Patrice Evra.
Squeezed for space in midfield and around the United box they looked short of ideas.
Torres went close again when his diving header hammered to Van der Sar, but the keeper denied him again after 74 minutes
Eventually, United held on to take the important away win…and will take a clear advantage heading into the Old Trafford for the second leg.
But Man U manager Sir Alex Fergusion knows nothing has been decided yet.
Alex Ferguson, Manchester United Manager said “Yeah, of course they could do it. It’s only a one-goal lead and we have to be very careful, we have to play a really top performance next Tuesday (in the second leg). But, as I said, at Old Trafford the atmosphere will help us. Hopefully we’ll get through Saturday’s (Premier League) game (against Fulham) without any further injuries, and that would be a help.”
Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea Manager said “We had opportunities, but we didn’t score,we conceded that goal easily…”