Date:Sunday August 5 2007
Meaningless though the Community Shield is, it's always nice to win a trophy - and United did just that, after a good display and an excellent penalty shoot-out.
Sir Alex did not risk playing Chris Eagles against such a strong team and opted to deploy Patrice Evra as a left-winger instead - and I'd say this decision turned out to be a spectacular success, as for me Evra was the best player on the pitch.
The early phase of the game saw Chelsea on top, with the FA Cup winners enjoying the lion share of possession in the first quarter of an hour. However, United steadily grew in stature and the first real chance of the game fell to them, after Ronaldo's pass found Giggs in the box and Petr Cech somehow blocked the Welshman's 12-yard effort.
Nothing saved Chelsea 14 minutes later, when Vidic's long ball was controlled expertly by Evra who then flicked the ball to Ronaldo. The Portuguese winger laid it back onto the path of the advancing French player whose perfect pass from the by-line found Giggs in the box who fired home from 14-yards.
United were well on top but Chelsea conjured a brilliant goal almost out of nothing: a long ball was tamed by new signing Florent Malouda who shook off the challenge of Rio Ferdinand and then fired home from a difficult angle.
The second half started with the Champions wreaking havoc: a quick firework saw efforts by Ronaldo, Rooney and Giggs all saved and blocked. After this, though, the game settled down a bit and though the tempo was as high as ever, clear-cut chances were few and far between. Cech almost gifted a winner when fumbled a Ronaldo free-kick late but it wasn't converted so, after highly entertaining 90 minutes, the match has gone to penalties.
There was no drama: Edwin van der Sar saved from Pizarro, Lampard and Wright-Phillips whereas Ferdinand, Carrick and Rooney all scored - and thus the Community Shield was ours.
It's sweet to beat Chelsea to a trophy, even though it's a meaningless one. The team performed quite well, I think we shaded the game, shame we could not score a winner. Neither team fielded their strongest line-up, of course but it was encouraging ahead of the new season, especially if you consider we didn't have Saha, Scholes, Tevez, Anderson, Hargreaves and Gary Neville available.
One thing is clear, however. These two teams are evenly matched - so expect a thrilling title race.
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Date:Sunday August 5 2007
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|12. Hull City||15||5||3||7||-6||18|
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