Manchester United holds off Chelsea, Barcelona coasts in Champions League

Manchester United holds off Chelsea, Barcelona coasts in Champions League

UEFA Champions League

Manchester United holds off Chelsea, Barcelona coasts in Champions League

  Manu (reuters)

By JOHN BOSCHINI

Chelsea's dream of being the first London club to win the Champions League will have to wait another year as Manchester United held serve at Old Trafford with a 2-1 victory to advance to the Champions League semifinals 3-1 on aggregate.

It's the fourth time United has reached the semifinals in the past five seasons, winning it all in 2008. Both teams came close in the opening half an hour but Frank Lampard put his open shot too close to Edwin van der Sar and Jaiver Hernandez's goal was called off when the Mexican was ruled inches offside.

United broke the deadlock before halftime when Hernandez, this time onside, directed Ryan Giggs' cross past Peter Cech in the 43rd minute.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti caused a stir before kickoff when under-performing striker Fernando Torres was preferred to Didier Drogba, who started on the bench. It was another disappointing outing for Torres and the Spaniard was replaced by Drogba at halftime still without a goal for his new club.

Down 2-0 on aggregate, Chelsea pushed men forward in the second half. Its task was made even more difficult when Ramires was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 70th minute. Despite being down a man, Drogba made a game of it with a clinical finish in the 77th minute.

A second goal would have put Chelsea through on away goals but Park Ji-Sung answered for Manchester United just seconds later to seal the victory.

Barcelona strolled to a 1-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine courtesy of a Lionel Messi goal.

The second leg of the two team's quarterfinal draw was never in much doubt as Barcelona thrashed the Eastern Europeans 5-1 at the Camp Nou last week.

Shakhtar threatened early on when Douglas Costa was put through on goal but Victor Valdes stood tall to keep the game scoreless. Barcelona eventually took control of possession and Messi opened the scoring with a superb strike from 15 yards out in the 43d minute.

It was Messi's 48th goal of the season in all competitions and means Barcelona will likely face arch-rivals Real Madrid in the semifinals. It was the first home defeat in two and a half years for Shakhtar.

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What did you think of today's results? Impressed with Manchester United's victory? Is Barcelona unstoppable?

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