Premier League – Vintage Scholes inspires United win

Paul Scholes enjoyed a vintage day out at Wembley as Manchester United lifted the Community Shield for an 18th time with a 3-1 win over English champions Chelsea.

Supported by willing runners in Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney, Scholes – now a sprightly 35 – left Carlo Ancelotti’s side flabbergasted as he dictated play in the first period with his delightful range of passing.

The evergreen midfielder picked out Wayne Rooney with a 50-yard pass and the England striker played in Valencia for the opener on 41 minutes.

Valencia turned provider for Mexico striker Javier Hernandez to score a fortuitous second on 76 minutes, his first competitive goal for United.

Chelsea reduced their arrears when Salomon Kalou scored from close range after Edwin van der Sar failed to hold Daniel Sturridge‘s raking shot from distance on 83 minutes.

Chelsea tried desperately to restore parity, but they were picked off in stoppage time when substitute Dimitar Berbatov polished off a 20-pass move with an exquisite lob over Henrique Hilario.

England manager Fabio Capello and the country’s World Cup players, including Chelsea’s John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, were booed before this match broke out, but Rooney was hardly in the mood to beat himself up over what when wrong in South Africa.

Classical music band Blake gave a stirring rendition of the national anthem, but the match was entertaining enough for what it represented.

The Community Shield may have the feeling of a phoney war on the cusp of a new Premier League season, but there was enough to keep the fans entertained in an opening period that enabled Scholes to open his considerable box of tricks.

Scholes decided to opt against returning to play for England at the World Cup finals.

He managed to show Capello and the watching fans what they missed as he impressed himself upon Chelsea between the midfield and forward areas, the key part of the field where such matches are invariably won and lost.

United had made their intentions clear in the opening few minutes.

Hilario did well to pluck Valencia’s attempted chip out of the air on four minutes before he played provider for Scholes to hammer a volley over the bar when the majority of the 84,000 crowd expected to see the net rippling from inside the box.

Chelsea’s first meaningful attack left United’s seasoned goalkeeper Van der Sar looking cumbersome.

The Dutchman spilled Nicolas Anelka‘s shot, but the ball broke to Kalou, who failed to convert from an acute angle.

Van der Sar was alert enough on 17 minutes when he dived to claw out a Branislav Ivanovic header from Florent Malouda‘s cross, but United’s thrusts continued to cut away at the heart of Chelsea.

Scholes would constantly probe at Chelsea’s underbelly as he supplied Michael Owen on 38 minutes, but the striker’s chipped lob was headed wide of his own goal somewhat frantically by Ivanovic.

Chelsea were helpless to deprive United of the lead on 40 minutes as Valencia slotted in with Hilario isolated.

With several substitutions impacting upon the rhythm of the game in the second period, Chelsea began to visit some brighter times, even if they were restricted to efforts from outside the United box.

Malouda, Kalou and Michael Essien all hammered shots in before United moved two goals ahead. Hernandez scored from three yards as he threw a foot at the ball which flew into the net via his head. The young striker seemed to realise his good fortune as he wheeled away to kiss the badge.

Chelsea substitute Sturridge made an impressive impact as he forced Van der Sar to save on 81 minutes before Kalou scored to give Chelsea new hope.

But Berbatov had the final say with his goal in the game’s closing moments, even if Scholes had revelled in supplying its most memorable contributions.


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