Ryan Giggs produced a superb display at Old Trafford
Manchester United advanced to the Champions League semifinals for the fourth time in five years on Tuesday by ousting English rival Chelsea with a 2-1 victory that extended its first-leg advantage.
After Wayne Rooney’s goal secured at 1-0 win last week, Javier Hernandez put United further ahead by latching onto Ryan Giggs’ cross at the end of the first half.
Chelsea’s hopes of a comeback appeared to have been thwarted when Ramires was sent off with 20 minutes to go after a second foul on Nani earned another yellow card.
nd although Chelsea’s substitute striker Didier Drogba pulled one back in the 77th minute, Park Ji-sung immediately scored for United from the restart, with Giggs again the provider.
While United also tops the Premier League and has an FA Cup semifinal with Manchester City on Saturday, Chelsea’s hopes for a title this season are effectively gone with the London club 11 points adrift in the domestic title race.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich once again saw his quest for a Champions League trophy stymied by United, which beat Chelsea in a penalty shootout in the 2008 final. The Russian had hoped Fernando Torres would help finally deliver the club’s first European Cup title when he sanctioned the British-record signing of the Spanish striker for 50 million pounds in January.
But the criticism of Torres is likely to grow louder as he once again failed to score his first goal for the club before being taken off at halftime in favor of Drogba.
Before that, Torres only once came close to scoring: flicking a header wide from Anelka’s cross. A later attempt to hook the ball from edge of the penalty area reached no further than United defender John O’Shea.
While Chelsea did dominate the first half, United was always dangerous on the counterattack and the hosts felt they should have been in front in the 25th minute.
Rooney powered down the right flank and sent a perfectly placed cross into the penalty area where Hernandez headed home, but the Mexico striker was adjudged to be offside.
Hernandez wasn’t to be denied when he found the net again in the 43rd minute.
Giggs traded passes with John O’Shea and the 37-year-old midfielder went past Nicolas Anelka before floating in a cross that went past Rooney but was swept home by Hernandez.
The goal jolted Ancelotti into bringing on Drogba and the Ivory Coast forward came close to leveling after just 10 minutes on the pitch when he powered the ball around Edwin van der Sar’s right post.
But it was a night when Van der Sar had little to do and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech had to remain constantly alert, parrying a shot from Nani in the 68th minute.
Ramires had been Chelsea’s most dangerous player, but the visitors had to cope without him after being sent off as tensions rose in the fixture. Having already been cautioned for tripping Nani in the first half, the Brazil midfielder was booked for another clumsy tackle on him in the 70th.
Still, Drogba latched onto Michael Essien’s deep ball and resisted pressure form O’Shea before scoring.
Any hope that it would rouse Chelsea into a dramatic comeback evaporated when Giggs set up another goal, this time finding a wide-open Park, who drove a shot past Cech into the net.
Now United looks set to meet Schalke in the semifinals, with the German side leading Inter Milan 5-2 going into Wednesday’s quarterfinal second leg.
Barcelona also advanced after beating Shakhtar Donetsk 6-1 on aggregate, and will likely face Real Madrid, which leads Tottenham 4-0 going into the second leg.