Manchester United v Chelsea – as it happened

United scored three times and missed a penalty but Chelsea were unlucky to go home with nothing after a feisty encounter

Preamble: Hello and welcome to the glacé cherry on today's Super Sundae offering, the first meeting of the season between the Premier League's two biggest beasts, Manchester United and Chelsea. Manchester City may have aspirations to break up the cartel but since Chelsea brusquely shouldered Arsenal aside at the start of the 2004-05 season, these two have won 15 of the 21 major domestic trophies on offer in this country - not to mention contested the only all-English European Cup final. United, the reigning champions, have scorched their way to the top of the table after four games but Chelsea are lurking in their shadow, just two points behind after a low-key start to life under André Villas Boas.

And as with objects in the rear-view mirror, Chelsea may loom larger in United's mind than an objective analysis would dictate. Ostensibly still a work in progress, as Villas-Boas attempts to coax Chelsea's old guard to stop doddering around and pass the ball a bit quicker, maybe even consider running, the Blues arrive at Old Trafford with a better Premier League record at United's home than any other team. The season before last, Chelsea effectively sealed the title with a 2-1 victory there - though in 2010-11, United won four out of five encounters between the sides (including the Charity Shield). It surely won't be that simple again.

Added to the usual mix of my-team-is-better-than-yours mewling are enough subplots for a Dickens novel. How will Villas-Boas's mixture of natty ties and touchline squat thrusts fare when pitched against the wiliest cat in town, Sir Alex Ferguson? Can Chelsea reinvent themselves whilst maintaining the girder-like constitution that has long seen them overtake Arsenal as London's No1 challenger to the Manchester hegemony? Will Fernando Torres ever get his mojo back? And can anyone stop Wayne Rooney? Let's find out.

The teams are in, and it's good news for Manchester United Nando:

Man Utd (4-4-2): De Gea; Smalling, Jones, Evans, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Anderson, Young; Rooney, Hernandez.
Subs: Lindegaard, Berbatov, Giggs, Park, Carrick, Fabio Da Silva, Valencia.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Lampard, Ramires, Meireles; Mata, Sturridge, Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Luiz, Romeu, Mikel, Malouda, Lukaku, Anelka.

Today's designated scapegoat: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

3.30pm: So, Fernando Torres starts for Chelsea, even though there is no Nemanja Vidic for him to terrorise. I suspect that he and Sturridge will not both play as out-and-out strikers, with one dropping off a la Wayne Rooney for United. For the home side, Darren Fletcher makes his first league start of the season to form an industrious centre-midfield partnership with the rejuvenated Anderson and Rio Ferdinand has not recovered sufficiently to even make the bench. For stardust, we'll have to look to the flanks, with Nani and Ashley included in Sir Alex Ferguson's side and the exciting Juan Mata starting for Chelsea.

3.36pm: Did anyone see that coming? Other than Gary Neville, of course.

3.45pm: For what it's worth (about 3p), I think United will be too strong for Chelsea today. Sky, by the way, are suggesting that Chelsea will actually line up in a 4-3-3, with Sturridge and Mata wide. So ignore what I wrote 15 minutes ago, eh. Anyway, the managers have gabbling quotation gold to Geoff Shreeves ...

An important insight into Lord Ferg's team selection process: "I've no idea," he says, when asked how he chose between Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to play at right back.

"We have prepared and hopefully it will play out decisively, or not," says André Villas-Boas, who to be fair is covering his bases. "Everybody comes here trusting defensive organisation. Let's see what the game brings"

"This it the first proper big game of the season," squeaks Gary Neville, inflicting further misery on Arsenal fans who thought they shared that honour with today's hosts. I mean, how much bigger can you get than 8-2? "This is the most attacking team I've seen Chelsea bring here in a long time – I think they're going for it."

Red Nev seems to have toned down the goatee these days; though has Joey Barton's Ché chin fluff now taken Neville's crown as the worst-ever beard in football?

3.57pm: The teams are strolling out into the Old Trafford sunshine. Time for the anthems!

3.58pm: Oh ... And here I was think this game was being played in the Republic of Mancunia.

3.59pm: Javier Hernández is on his knees in the centre circle. Let's pray this is a good one.

Peep! United take the kick-off, and today's association football is underway. Wave those rattles in the air, everyone.

1 min: Almost immediately Hernandez is haring away behind the Chelsea back line after a long ball over the top but he's unable to prevent the ball running out for a goal kick.

3 min: There's a good atmosphere inside the ground - though I'm not quite sure it qualifies for the "special" billing it was given by Ed Chamberlain. Chelsea make the first venture forward down the left and Ashley Cole's volleyed cross to the back post is met by Ramires, with David de Gea getting down smartly to make the save with his feet!

5 min: Chelsea have started at a high tempo, harrying United well up the pitch and a misplaced pass almost allows Fernando Torres a sight of goal, with Jonny Evans forced to make the tackle.

6 min: "I'm deeply troubled by Mereiles's haircut," says Paul Dowling. I suggest you don't want to go anywhere near Hoxton then, Paul.

GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea (Smalling 8) Ashley Young was fouled some 30 yards out on United's left flank. He dusted himself off to swirl in the free-kick right-footed, with Chris Smalling rising at the back post to thump a header emphatically past Petr Cech. He was completely unmarked, in miles of space - though that may be because he was ever-so-slightly offside.

10 min: United assume the dominant position inside the first 10 minutes, then - which I presume wasn't in that game plan Villas-Boas was talking about. Sturridge, who looks lively already, bursts into the area on the right but the ball is hustled out for a corner ...

11 min: ... which De Gea claims, despite a team-mate (possibly Phil Jones) challenging him for the ball. Give him a chance, Phil!

12 min: And now Torres drags a shot wide of De Gea's right post after Evans Anderson (I know, they all look the same) had given the ball away! That was a good chance for the Spaniard, who had twisted and turned his way into the box like the Torres of old. Unfortunately his finishing was of more recent vintage.

14 min: Chelsea have responded well to going a goal behind and win another corner, with Branislav Ivanovic winning the header in the box. The effort is straight at De Gea, though, who takes the ball cleanly.

15 min: Sturridge, who has indeed drifted out to the right, aims a crossfield ball at Torres - but it's too high and sails out for a goal kick. Definitely a spritely start from Chelsea. You know, apart from conceding after eight minutes.

17 min: United make a rare foray forwards and Nani tussles with Ivanovic in the box, winning the corner. Cech comes out to claim the ball.

19 min: United are awarded a free-kick centrally, some 30 yards out, with Rooney standing over the ball in the set-piece style. It's a ruse, though, and he spreads the ball to the right. The cross is half-cleared before dropping in the box after Evans's cut back. Lampard makes a complete horlicks of trying to head the ball away, catching it between his face and his shoulder - but Phil Dowd waves away United's appeals for a penalty and Chelsea get rid.

21 min: And now Lampard gets a sight of goal at the other end, winding up and firing a right-footed volley a yard of two wide after Raul Meireles and played him into space. This has been nice and open so far. I suspect that means it will end 1-0.

23 min: Hernandez almost scuttles through on goal but there's too much on the ball and Cech comes out to mop up. And I was expecting the trademark Super Sunday dour-fest!

25 min: United are beginning to make better use of the ball in wide positions and Meireles makes an important intervention to prevent Nani's cross from reaching Rooney ...

26 min: Ramires has missed a sitter! It wasn't quite an open goal but David de Gea should have been given no chance after Torres had squared the ball on the edge of the six-yard box. With De Gea scrambling back across his line, Ramires screwed up his side-footed attempt, plopping it straight at the keeper, who scooped it away!

27 min: That chance was created by Mata's sublime through ball, by the way, with Torres slipping into the space on the left behind Smalling and Jones. He perhaps should have gone for goal himself - but he could hardly have presented Ramires with an easier chance. What an opportunity missed.

29 min: They may be behind but this has been a hugely encouraging performance for Chelsea so far. Torres is even confident enough to attempt an overhead kick from Sturridges cross ... It flies well wide. But still.

31 min: It's still all Chelsea, with Sturridge firing a shot straight at De Gea after more good work from Torres and Mata. De Gea came into the weekend as the keeper who has made the most saves in the Premier League. I suspect he'll keep that accolade come the end of the day.

34 min: At the other end, Rooney curls a shot wide. He looks in the mood to make Chelsea pay for squandering those chances. "If someone like Edin Dzeko played as terribly as Frank Lampard has in this match, it be the No. 1 topic of conversation," says Tom Ryan. "Is he having a laugh with some of these shots he's attempting?" I'm all for pointing up Lampard's flaws, Tom, but he really hasn't done too much wrong today.

35 min: Some welcome possession for United, who begin to knock it around in the Chelsea half. And some welcome news from west London, where Chelsea's neighbours are doing United a favour: it's Fulham 2-2 Manchester City.

GOAL! Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea (Nani 37) My word, that's a screamer! The Portuguese was allowed freedom to dance towards the box on the right and he took advantage of that space to line up his sights and rifle a powerful, rising drive into the top corner with his right foot, completely beating Cech's dive. Chelsea have been smacked with a sucker punch.

39 min: United are irresistible at the moment, aren't they?

40 min: Replays show what a good ball Jonny Evans played out to Nani on the right wing in the build up to the goal ... and that Nani may have actually been offside in the build up. Luck, form, etc and so on.

42 min: Understandably, Chelsea look a little deflated. They may have trouble rising off the canvas for a second time.

44 min: Here's Gary Naylor: "In cricket, fielders not making an effort to get to the ball are said to be 'escorting it to the boundary'. Peter Cech rather escorted Nani's shot into the net." Really, Gary? That shot was only travelling at 9,788,103mph, so you're probably right.

GOAL! Manchester United 3-0 Chelsea (Rooney 45) Draw the curtains, put the cat out because this game has just been put to bed. Phil Jones tore forward before releasing Nani into the box and continuing his run. Nani attempted to find him with a flamboyant backheel but John Terry made the block before trying to hook the ball clear whilst lying on the floor ... only for it to rebound across the box off Nani and straight to the lurking Wayne Rooney, who swept in his ninth goal of the season!

Peep! Peep! The whistle brings the end to a thundering first half, in which United have handed out one of the most comprehensive muggings you're likely to see. The home side have had three shots on target, and scored all of them!

Half-time post bag: "EBLJT lulz :p," txts Mario Rustan, concisely summing up that third goal. Brian Glanville couldn't have put it better himself.

"Torres should definitely score. I think it's required in the grand scale of things, for symmetry," says Cecilia Marjakangas, who's nailed the most important feature of today's contest. "If one part of this game is Wayne Rooney's very odd-looking hair transplant, another part should be a golazo from Fernando Torres, the one player with great hair. Just to even things out. Chelsea look unlucky today but there's also an imbalance in the universe.

"Seriously speaking, though... Chelsea are still a work in progress. There are flashes of brilliance but AVB should be given time. United are a well-oiled machine. They need some little mechanics from Catalonia to rankle them."

And here's Jack Goodson: "Do you seriously think Chelsea have been mugged? Perhaps in the sense of sucker punches, but in the overall play, Chelsea have looked quite bright - sans a certain feminine Spaniard. I reckon they're woefully unlucky to be behind by such a margin." Isn't that what being mugged means?

Peep! Peep! André Villas-Boas is really showing his colours (blue, obviously, but you know what I mean). Nicolas Anelka is on in place of Frank Lampard.

GOAL! Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea (Torres 46) And what an impact that substitution has had! Torres has scored only his second goal in a Chelsea shirt, and it's a peach of a finish! Anelka was the creator, receiving the ball on the left wing, checking inside before playing a precise reverse pass in behind Jones where Torres had timed his run to perfection. The Spaniard then proceeded to scoop the ball delicately over De Gea as the keeper came off his line. That was expertly done, a really terrific strike and all the more so given his travails in front of goal.

49 min: Perhaps this is not all over ... Ramires goes into the book after crunching into Rooney from behind, though it looked like he might have got some of the ball.

50 min: Mata very nearly latches on to a ball over the top on the right of the box, as Chelsea swarm forward again. They're producing all the attacking intent - I imagine Roman Abramovich is purring. Well, aside from the fact his team is still two goals behind, of course.

52 min: Bosingwa fires in a cross from the right, trying to pick out the run of Torres, but it has too much on it. Here's Benjamin List: "Cecilia Marjakangas (try saying that when you're drunk) claims only Torres has great hair, but Meireles' Mohawk is rather immense. Plus it's offset with tattoos, whereas Torres' is set off with an Alice-band. If Chelsea could lose by five to take the heat away from Liverpool that'd be lovely. Ta. Torres scores, and a pig flies into my face. Who'da thunk it?"

53 min: De Gea is forced to make a save low to his left, turning the ball around the post for a corner ... which Chelsea take short, though it comes to nothing and United break.

PENALTY to Manchester United! And what a break! Nani thunders and shot against the underside of the crossbar and then, in trying to get to the rebound, he is adjudged to have been fouled by Jose Bosingwa!

PENALTY MISSED! (Rooney 55) It's John Terry in Moscow, the re-make! Rooney completely looses his footing as he strikes the ball, skewing the shot wide of the goal. In fact, it was worse than Terry's miss in the Champions League final - at least he hit the post! There's possibly some justice there, as Bosingwa looked to have got a touch on the ball when challenging Nani.

58 min: This has been a terrific match so far, played at breath-taking pace as the teams trade blows. End-to-end, you might say, if you were resorting to lazy cliche. Which we're not.

60 min: Chelsea win their fifth corner of the match - to United's one - as Jones gets back to cut off another break by Torres. Mata's delivery is good, towards the penalty spot, but Terry's header loops the wrong way, from a Chelsea point of view.

62 min: United make two substitutions, one enforced from the looks of it: Chris Smalling walks off a little gingerly to be replaced at right-back by Antonio Valencia, with Michael Carrick on for Anderson, who has been quiet by his recent high standards.

63 min: "Re: Ramires haircut ..." I think you mean Meireles, Jake Noble, but I'll let you off. "The hoxton haircut has moved on from the days of the fin, these days you're nothing if you don't have at least 2 haircuts in conflict …something that appears to be the result of 2 myopic hairdressers starting at either sides of your head and working until they meet embarrassingly in the middle … say a quiff and a mullet, the quillet or maybe a beehive and a rats tail, 'hivetail' . My names but the haircuts of others. For the arch accident see Nathan Barley's Geek Pie. And yes I do work in Shoreditch."

65 min: A lull. Phew. And then Rooney thunks a free-kick into the Chelsea wall.

66 min: From a short corner routine, Ashley Young whips over a right-footed delivery that Phil Jones heads wide. He should probably have done a wee bit better there, in my humble opinion.

68 min: AVB is going for this, oh yes, and more power to his elbow. He sends on the hulking Romelu Lukaku for Daniel Sturridge.

69 min: And from a quick Chelsea corner, their second in succession, Little Pat Evra makes an important block to deny Lukaku a chance at the near post. Another corner for the visitors ...

70 min: ... which Ivanovic this time heads wide.

71 min: How are Chelsea still two goals behind?! Torres twice comes close to doubling his tally, driving into the area, past at least two defenders before drawing a good stop from De Gea with a stinging drive. The rebound bobbles back to the Chelsea strike and he swivels and hammers and right-footed volley half a yard over the bar!

73 min: United have played very much like the away team here, sitting back and hitting Chelsea on the break. It may not have been the masterplan as Ferguson set out before the game but you'd have to say it's worked pretty well, though Chelsea have had more than double the attempts on the goal.

74 min: "You may not be resorting to lazy cliché, Alan, but occultatio is a fairly desperate rhetorical trope too, no?" I've got my hands up, Sean Matthews. It's, er, a fair cop.

76 min: Wayne Rooney hits the post with a close-range effort! Javier Hernandez throws himself into mix to try and turn in the rebound but he can only lash the ball wide from a tight angle and gets injured in the process ...

77 min: In fact, Hernandez was caught on his standing leg extremely late by Ashley Cole's studs-up lunge - and Phil Dowd books the Chelsea left-back for the challenge. Surely, that should be another penalty to United, then?! No?

79 min: That decision will probably not hurt United but Javier Hernandez is certainly struggling. He'll have to be replaced here. That was a terrible challenge from Cole and he's lucky not to have been shown a red card - though it seems he may actually have been so late that the ball had gone out of play, and it was therefore not punishable with a penalty. On comes Dimitar Berbatov for Hernandez, while Chelsea replace Raul Meireles with Mikel Jon Obi.

81 min: Berbatov is inches away from making contact with Nani's cross from the right. Hernandez is limping but is able to make his way around the side of the pitch without any support, thankfully.

83 min: Now Torres misses an open goal! It was asking too much for him to score two, wasn't it? It was a glorious chance, made in part by his movement off the shoulder of Jonny Evans, picking up Ramires's pass into the box and skillfully swaying his weight to move the ball past De Gea as he came off his line ... only to then mishit the shot wide of the post! That is symptomatic of Torres's confidence issues, snatching at a chance he would normally bury.

85 min: Chelsea will just have to hope that miss hasn't undone the progress Torres has made today, because he has been otherwise outstanding. In fact Chelsea's performance as a whole has been a tonic. At this rate, they might even become watchable again ...

86 min: Small consolation dept, with Joe Balfour. "There's less than 10 minutes to go, my beloved Chelsea are losing 3-1, and yet I am filled with pride. We have outplayed United, attacked them all afternoon and suffered from bad luck in two United goals being offside and a penalty that never was. Plus I am proud of AVB for having the balls to take off an ineffective Lampard. *Sobs*"

89 min: I said this match was over at half-time and the final result is probably going to suggest I was right. For the record, I wasn't. This has been a thoroughly engrossing contest, one of the best matches I've seen so far this season.

90 min: There are going to be five minutes of added time, due to the stoppage for treatment on Hernandez.

90+1 min: And now Berbatov has an effort cleared off the line after Rooney had unselfishly set him up. It was Ashley Cole - who probably shouldn't still be on the pitch - who got back to make the block after Cech and been rounded by Rooney. As with Ramires in the first half, Berba should have buried that.

90+4 min: [Peeks head above parapet, decides to risk it] I don't think we're going to have any more drama here. United have got the ball and pretty much just need to avoid kicking it twice into their own net ...

Peep! Peep! Peep! It's all over, United's 100% record endures. That was as uncomfortable as comfortable victories come. You get me? The result is all that matters, of course, and United now go two points clear at the top of the table after City's draw at Fulham, but Chelsea can take a lot from a buccaneering performance, a display that was about as close as you can get to schooling United on their own turf. Villas-Boas tastes defeat for the first time with Chelsea, and the first time in more than a year in the league, but he has made quite a mark today. Not that you get any points for that. Cheers for all your emails ... Bye!

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