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Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009

Chelsea outlasts United on penalties to lift Shield

WEMBLEY, England (AP) The arrival of a new manager at Chelsea has done nothing to quell the heated rivalry with Manchester United as Carlo Ancelotti's players won the Community Shield on Sunday in a penalty shootout after an often ill-tempered match.

News photo
Blue crush: Chelsea's Ricardo Carvalho (right) and Manchester United's Michael Owen vie for the ball during the F.A. Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday. The Blues won on penalties. AP PHOTO

The traditional curtain raiser to the English season is rarely a spectacle, but on this occasion was feverishly contested and tensions between the Premier League champions and F.A. Cup winners simmered throughout.

While Chelsea's 4-1 shootout victory over Manchester United — after the match finished 2-2 in regulation time — probably says little about the destination of the more important silverware this season, the effects of the Wembley encounter are likely to linger.

United manager Alex Ferguson claimed that Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack should have been sent off after elbowing Patrice Evra. Instead, with the France left back on the ground in pain, referee Chris Foy allowed play to continue and Didier Drogba slipped the loose ball for Frank Lampard to put Chelsea 2-1 in front.

"With a replay you can see Ballack has elbowed the boy, and if the referee had seen it properly, it is a red card," Ferguson said. "The referee is in line with it, and should have at least stopped the game."

After the 71st-minute goal, Evra had to be kept apart from Ballack and he was booked for a reckless challenge on the Germany midfielder some 10 minutes later.

The goal was even more frustrating for United since it had dominated after Nani put it ahead in the 10th minute with a fierce shot from distance. That strike had been canceled out by Ricardo Carvalho in the 52nd.

Wayne Rooney gave United a chance to win the match on penalties when he latched onto a pass from Ryan Giggs in stoppage time to make it 2-2, only to see three teammates strike feeble penalties in the shootout as Chelsea scored all four of theirs.

"This is sweet," Lampard said. "It feels nice to make a winning start to the season."

The most immediate impact of the match for United will be the likely loss of Nani for the start of its title defense next Sunday after the Portugal winger dislocated his shoulder in a clash with John Terry.

Until that point, Nani had been in sparkling form causing problems for Chelsea right back Branislav Ivanovic as he looks to prove he can fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo's departure.

"He had done very well, and we are very pleased with his performance," Ferguson said.

The Red Devils are still reeling from Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez being lured away from Old Trafford in big-money moves since losing the Champions League final to Barcelona.

Ultimately, United's season is likely to hinge on how effectively Wigan's Antonio Valencia can replace Ronaldo, who was sold to Real Madrid for a record £80 million ($133 million), but the Ecuador international didn't emerge until Nani came off injured on the hour.

With Edwin van der Sar out for two months, Ben Foster started in goal for United, giving him a chance to impress England coach Fabio Capello, but he looked hesitant throughout.

Chelsea's equalizer came when Foster only half cleared Florent Malouda's volleyed cross as he collided with Drogba. The attempted clearance fell straight to Carvalho, who headed into the open goal from eight meters.

"That was a poor goal from our point of view," Ferguson said.

Foster was also partially at fault for Chelsea's second, regardless of the contentious circumstances that led to Lampard's strike, which slipped through the 'keeper's gloves, struck the inside of the post and bounced over the line.

"Knowing Ben and the ability which he has, he should have done better with the second goal," Ferguson said.

For Chelsea, the victory means the players are starting the new season as the F.A. Cup winners left off in May — by winning a trophy.

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