The Champions League final of 2008 was the first to feature two English teams
Favourites United started strongly
As English champions, United started the games as slight favourites. The two team sheets suggested that United were the side more likely to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and go for the jugular with their attacking talent.
This is much the way the game started. United dominated the first half. Ronaldo was having a superb game and Essien was having real difficulty dealing with the Portuguese forward.
United were in control and their breakthrough came when Ronaldo scored with a precision header in the 26th minute. After a good cross from the right from Wes Brown, Ronaldo rose above Essien to direct a strong header into the bottom left corner of the goal. Incredibly it was his 42nd goal of the season!
Chelsea keeper Cech performed heroics eight minutes later with an incredible double save from a Tevez header and then a follow up from Carrick after a lightning quick United break involving Rooney and Ronaldo.
Seven minutes later Tevez nearly doubled United’s lead. The impressive Rooney drove in a low cross from the right finding Tevez but the Argentine was unable to convert the chance.
Chelsea get run of the ball for equaliser
With half time approaching, United looked in control. They had dominated most of the first half and could have had more than a one goal advantage.
The biggest threat to the United goal up to this point had come from one of their own players in the 33rd minute. Ferdinand almost gifted Chelsea an equaliser with a header towards his own goal after good pressure from Drogba. Van der Sar had to be alert to keep the ball out of the net and the score at 1-0.
Just before half time Chelsea did get their equaliser albeit against the run of play. Essien hit a shot from outside the box that deflected off both Vidic and Ferdinand before falling at the feet of Lampard. The England midfielder kept his nerve to slot a well placed shot beyond the oncoming Van der Sar to send the sides into the half time break all square.
At half time the United dressing room must have felt a little bemused. They had been the better team in the first half and had taken the lead but they would now have to do it all over again after conceding in the last minute. However they must have felt that if they carried on playing the way they had been they would become European champions.
The Chelsea squad may also have been feeling upbeat about the second half. In many ways they had got away with a first half in which they had been second best and come into half time level. They must have been looking around their dressing room at the players at their disposal and thinking that the best was yet to come.
Chelsea seize momentum in the second half
Both sides emerged for the second half with their teams unchanged. While the personnel on the field remained the same, the momentum swung very much Chelsea’s way as they began to dominate the second half.
Whatever had been said at half time had done the trick and after surviving the first half it seemed that perhaps fate was on their side. They were passing the ball around comfortably and were in control of the game but they could not find a way to break down the United defence.
In the 77th minute they came agonisingly close to going in front. Drogba was 25 yards from goal when he hit a superb curling shot. Van der Sar was beaten but the ball hit the post and bounced to safety.
It was the closest either side had gone in the second half but neither side could find that winning goal and the game went into extra time. Both sides come close in extra time – Read more