Skip to content

Chelsea, Manchester United secure valuable road points

Oct 2, 2012, 5:36 PM EDT

FBL-EUR-C1-CFR CLUJ-MANCHESTER UNITED Getty Images

It wasn’t easy for either of the English giants, though it would be an exaggeration to say it was hard. Chelsea and Manchester United had their share of obstacles on the road against Champions League minnows, yet each earned a comfortable three points, vaulting them to the top of their UEFA Champions League groups.

Chelsea had the easier of things, showing early signs of dominating Danish champions FC Nordsjaelland. The underdogs had trouble matching the Blues’ early pressure, though by the middle of the first half, FCN were holding enough of the ball to set up in Chelsea’s end and ask a few questions. Had Chelsea not scored before halftime, this match could have been destined for a 0-0, the holders faced with a newly-confident underdog coming out of halftime. Instead, a well-executed goal eventually put in by Juan Mata gave the Blues a halftime lead.

More: Snap judgments on Tuesday’s action

In the second half, Nordsjaelland eventually broke. Chelsea got goals from David Luiz, Mata, and Ramires, leaving the final score at a deceptive 4-0.

The Danes were better than that, and Chelsea deserve credit for putting up a lopsided score against a team that was more than minnows. Ultimately, though, this is just holding serve. The Blues were expected to get these points, got them, and now move on to back-to-back games against Group E co-leading Shakhtar Donetsk. Chelsea’s well-equipped to handle Shakhtar, but as the Ukrainian champions showed today at Juventus, they’ll be formidable.

In Romania, Manchester United got an early scare, conceding an goal that sparked memories of last year’s Champions League disappointment. Take away the score, however, and the match was only slightly different than Chelsea’s. Both English giants were feeling the bite of an emboldened host. While Cluj looked more dangerous than Nordsjaelland, the challenge remained the same. Despite the deficit, United just needed to keep playing their game.

It quickly paid off. Robin van Persie headed United even before half time. In the second half, a beautiful pass from Wayne Rooney produced and unstoppable volley from van Persie. Combined with 65 percent possession, it was a well-earned win for United, 2-1.

That doesn’t mean the Red Devils won’t be in for some criticism, especially after giving Cluj a chance to draw even near the end. Nobody who criticized United before this match will be convinced. But Manchester United (and their fans) should be used to the same qualms they’ve continually heard in the post-Ronaldo era. They never look good. They never win by enough. Their midfield’s never that strong. Other teams control matches. Their defense is leaky. They need to settle on a goalkeeper. Overall, they’re very overrated.

All of which might be true, but season-after-season, the team continues to put up results. They posted 89 points in last year’s Premier League. Two years ago, they won the league and made the Champions League final. As long as the team keeps producing those kind of results, criticisms are better seen as ways to improve, not reasons United aren’t good. They are clearly a good team.

There is, however, the little detail of them missing group stage in last year’s Champions League. Today went a long way to correcting that problem. Three good points on the road give them six through two rounds. The points also make last year look less like a pattern and more like an aberration.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Diego Costa could be out four to six weeks with hamstring injury

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Pre-Season Friendly - "Vitesse Arnhem v Chelsea" Getty Images

    Reports indicate Chelsea striker Diego Costa has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out of the side for four to six weeks.

  2. Samuel Eto’o announces international retirement from Cameroon

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT

    Soc Wcup Cameroon Samuel Eto'o AP

    Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o has announced his retirement from international football.

  3. Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph all set for England call-ups

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT

    Source: Arsenal FC Source: Arsenal FC

    The BBC is reporting that Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph are all set for England call-ups.

  4. Report: Geoff Cameron injured in Stoke City’s victory over Portsmouth

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Harry Kane, Geoff Cameron AP

    Lazio is most interested in the American’s services but the recent injury casts doubt on the likelihood of a transfer.

  5. League Cup Roundup: QPR and Aston Villa crash out

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT

    Romain Vincelot celebrates his goal that knocked out Villa Getty Images

    QPR and Aston Villa followed Manchester United’s lead in crashing out of the League Cup to clubs from the Football League.

  6. Champions League Roundup: Ludogorets defender saves penalty to put Bulgarians through

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT

    Cosmin Moti, the hero for Ludogorets Cosmin Moti, the hero for Ludogorets

    Ludogorets defender Cosmin Moti took the gloves and saved two penalties to help his side advance to the Champions League group stage.

  7. Transfer needs – Everton, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City

    Aug 27, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT

    Falcao Getty Images

    Let’s take a look at five more clubs and how they will wheel and deal before the window slams shut.

  8. Olivier Giroud undergoes ankle surgery, out 3-4 months for Arsenal

    Aug 27, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    Olivier Giroud scored the only goal in what was often a rather drab affair at the Emirates. Getty Images

    The loss of Giroud skyrockets the possibility of Wenger soon moving to sign another pure striker.

  9. Report: Xabi Alonso reaches agreement with Bayern Munich

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    arjen_robben_xabi_alonso Getty Images

    Reports across Europe claim that Xabi Alonso has reached an agreement with Bayern Munich.

  10. Xabi Alonso retires from Spanish National Team

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Spain v France - UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final Getty Images

    “The hardest thing is knowing when to say goodbye,” Xabi Alonso said.

  11. VIDEO: Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola loses it, shoves Thomas Muller

    Aug 27, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Guardiola

    Guardiola gives Muller a piece of his mind during Bayern’s open practice session.

  12. Tottenham Hotspur sign Argentine international Federico Fazio

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

    Press Conference - UEFA Super Cup for UEFA Getty Images

    Fazio heads to White Hart Lane on four-year deal from Sevilla.

  13. UEFA postpone Israel’s Euro 2016 qualifier vs. Belgium due to safety fears

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    Mideast Israel Palestinians AP

    As conflict continues between Israel, Hamas, UEFA has stepped in to postpone qualifier.

  14. PHOTO: British papers rip into Manchester United after League Cup humiliation

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

    MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    Following United’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat to a third-tier team, the UK media have not been kind.

  15. $410 million Las Vegas soccer stadium deal closer; next stop, Major League Soccer…

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Las Vegas

    Soccer in Sin City… why not? Stadium deal gets over next hurdle, hinges on MLS team heading to Nevada.

  16. Report: Arsenal bid $82 million for Edinson Cavani. Remy, Falcao, Welbeck linked

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

    Cavani AP

    After Oliver Giroud’s bad injury, will Arsenal spend big to bring in Cavani?

  17. VOTE: Where will Manchester United finish in the Premier League this season?

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

    louis_van_gaal AP

    Have your say on where van Gaal’s side will finish this campaign.

  18. Confirmed: Neil Warnock takes over at Crystal Palace; what will he bring?

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    warnock-4361-1879034_478x359

    Eagles swoop to hand former boss his second stint in charge at Selhurst Park.

Featured video

Balotelli will boost Suarez-less Liverpool