New Season, Same Champions: Chelsea Still The Best Team in The World
Ladies and Gentlemen...Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) is back!
In the curtain-raiser of the English Premier League season, FA Cup winners Chelsea, the reigning UWCC champions from last season, took on title winning Manchester United in the Community Shield.
Both sides are expected to feature heavily in this coming season's transfer race, and today's match promised an early glimpse of how Manchester United would cope without Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, and how Chelsea would adapt to new manager Carlo Ancelotti.
On this day, it was Chelsea who came out on top after penalties in an entertaining and dramatic encounter.
The drama began early on for the Wembley crowd as Branislav Ivanovic saw his effort deflected onto the crossbar via Patrice Evra.
That close shave sparked United into action, and just a few minutes later they took full advantage as Nani got past Ivanovic and fired the ball home. Petr Cech should have perhaps done better, but it was a good finish from United's Portuguese winger nonetheless.
United continued to stamp their authority on the game after taking the lead, with Park Ji-Sung, Dimitar Berbatov, and Darren Fletcher all forcing good saves out of Cech.
A defensive change a half-time from Carlo Ancelotti looked to stem the flow of United chances, particularly through the impressive Nani, but it was another Chelsea defender that made the difference.
Ben Foster, standing in for the injured Edwin Van Der Sar, could only punch a cross from Florent Malouda, and Ricardo Carvalho took full advantage, pouncing with a diving header to make it 1-1.
An English football season is never complete without some bad blood between the top sides, and Chelsea's controversial second goal ensured an early start to it this year.
With Patrice Evra lying "injured" on the pitch after a tackle by Michael Ballack, United wanted Chelsea to kick the ball out.
They didn't (rightly so), and Frank Lampard's subsequent shot just squeezed past Ben Foster and trickled over the line.
United were incensed and immediately surrounded the referee. The feeling of injustice lingered for the remaining twenty minutes of normal time as they desperately searched for an equaliser.
Step up Wayne Rooney.
There had been questions as to whether he could fill the void left by Ronaldo or not, and he went some way to answering those questions with virtually the last kick of normal time.
His composed finish after Ryan Giggs' through ball provided the first late drama of the season, and sent the match into penalties.
Rooney's goal merely postponed the Chelsea celebrations, however, as Lampard, Ballack, Didier Drogba, and Salomon Kalou all netted for the Blues, with only Michael Carrick managing to score from the spot for United.
The result means that Chelsea have extended their record breaking UWCC run to 13 games, while Frank Lampard's goal is his 10th in UWCC history, becoming the first player to reach that landmark. Rooney's strike was his fifth, becoming the eighth person to score five UWCC goals.
It was also the third time the UWCC has been defended in a final, and the second time it has gone to penalties.
United's loss also ends their record of being the only challengers in UWCC history not to have lost a game.
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea (Chelsea become new champions)
Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United (Chelsea won 4-1 on penalties)
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Chelsea's next title defence comes next Saturday in the opening match of the new Premier League season against Hull. Can Hull beat Chelsea to become the best side in the world?!
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