Chelsea's Community Shield win offers few clues to season
Chelsea beat Manchester United on penalties to win the Community Shield on Sunday after a feisty 2-2 draw that offered few clues as to the destination of the far bigger prizes to be fought over during the next nine months.
Frank Lampard again showed his knack of scoring from midfield with one of Chelsea's goals as they responded from a lethargic first half to take the lead while United's Wayne Rooney took his stoppage time equaliser with trademark zeal.
United's Portuguese midfielder Nani showed glimpses of the flair that could help him fill the large hole left by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid while Chelsea's Michael Essien gave another powerful midfield display.
However, the traditional season curtain-raiser, that was marred by a bad-tempered clash between Patrice Evra and Michael Ballack, raised more questions than it answered.
Image: Chelsea's Didier Drogba, John Terry. Frank Lampard and Ricardo Carvalho celebrate with the trophy
Ancelotti won a trophy in his first match in charge
While Carlo Ancelotti won a trophy in his first competitive match in charge since taking over from Guus Hiddink, his preferred midfield diamond looked far from polished, particularly in a first half in which United cut through Chelsea with ease.
United's new signing Michael Owen was given just 15 minutes and barely got a kick while fellow new recruit Antonio Valencia was also restricted to a substitute appearance.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster, deputising for the injured Edwin van der Sar, could have done better with both Chelsea strikes as England manager Fabio Capello looked on.
One certainty whenever United and Chelsea meet is a raw edge and Sunday proved no exception.
United were furious when Ballack's crude bodycheck on Evra went unpunished by referee Chris Foy and with the Frenchman sprawled on the turf and United's players expecting the ball to be kicked out, Didier Drogba powered forward and squared for Lampard to shoot past Foster to put Chelsea 2-1 ahead with 20 minutes remaining.
"If the referee sees it properly it's a red card," United boss Alex Ferguson told reporters. "He's elbowed him clearly, he was lucky. The referee was in line and should have seen it.
"I'm disappointed because he has stopped the game twice before that. Once when Ballack went down he jumped up and was back on his feet again in seconds. That decision cost us the game. We've said it time and again, all we want is consistency."
Image: Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelloti with his Man United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson
Man United had no luck with penalties this time
Minutes later Evra launched a tackle on Ballack which earned him a yellow card.
Ancelotti was disappointed with Chelsea's display in the opening half an hour but said beating United would give his side confidence for the season.
"They are our most important opponent in the Premier League, they have great experience so it was important," said the Italian who broke Chelsea's penalty shoot-out jinx after they had lost their previous six, including the Champions League final in 2008 when United prevailed.
The impressive Nani opened the scoring after 10 minutes, waltzing across in from the left before arrowing a shot beyond Petr Cech.
However, the 22-year-old's afternoon ended painfully when he dislocated his shoulder on the hour.
Image: Man United players after the match
Chelsea looked far more comfortable
Chelsea looked far more comfortable after the break with Lampard and Essien much more involved.
After 52 minutes Lampard linked up with Florent Malouda whose looping cross was not dealt with by Foster and he pawed the ball straight to Ricardo Carvalho who headed into an empty net.
Lampard appeared to have sealed it before substitute Ryan Giggs sent Rooney clear to bury a shot past Cech.
It was a temporary reprieve for United though as Giggs and Evra both had their penalties saved and Salomon Kalou struck the winning blow for Chelsea.
Image: Chelsea players celebrate their triumph