Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Out - but Not Down ; United's Defeat to Chelsea Is a Far Cry from Recent Cup Exits. James Robson Reports

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Out - but Not Down ; United's Defeat to Chelsea Is a Far Cry from Recent Cup Exits. James Robson Reports

Article excerpt

UNITED'S latest League Cup exit will not come with anything like the recriminations that followed their previous failures in the competition.

Defeats to Coventry, West Ham and Crystal Palace in recent years served as very public embarrassments for Sir Alex Ferguson.

But coming within seconds of defeating European champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge cannot compare to those occasions. Ferguson was within a whisker of a second successive victory over Roberto Di Matteo's men, despite resting his biggest stars.

And it will be a personal source of satisfaction that his opposite number ended Wednesday's thrilling clash with seven members of what he would consider his strongest team on the pitch.

That is what it took for Chelsea to avoid a third straight defeat and overcome a United team of which only right-back Rafael can be guaranteed to start against Arsenal tomorrow lunchtime.

Had the peerless Anderson not been withdrawn with nine minutes to go - and Nani not had one of his moments of eccentricity, then United would most likely have been preparing for a Capital One Cup quarter-final with Leeds.

Instead it was a night that will live long in the mind of 21- yearold Scott Wootton - who conceded the crucial injury time penalty from which Eden Hazard made it 3-3, and gifted Daniel Sturridge Chelsea's fourth goal.

The young centre-back will learn from the experience and he won't be the last defender to be terrorised by Juan Mata, Oscar and Hazard this season.

A fact that was acknowledged by United's evergreen skipper, Ryan Giggs.

"I'm proud of the young players who played - there were some great performances, said the 38-year-old. "They will have learnt a lot and you learn more from losing as well.

"You try and take the positives from a game like that but there are a lot of disappointed lads in there and rightly so because they put in good performances.

"But they'll learn from it and the experience they'll gain from this is more than they could ever get from a reserve game.

"Out of the two sides Chelsea probably had the most experienced players with a lot of quality to come off the bench. They had to stick all their big guns on in the end to make an impact, which they did. …

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