Chelsea Edge Close Encounter (Sky Sports)
Chelsea 1 Manchester United 0
A new era at Stamford Bridge under the tenure of Jose Mourinho saw Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 courtesy of a goal from striker Eidur Gudjohnsen.
The opening stages saw both sides typically robust in their exertions but unsurprisingly with a plethora of new signings on show, chances and flowing football were at a premium.
It was a United debutant, Alan Smith, that garnered the first opportunity of the game when after feeding Giggs on the left, the Welshman returned the compliment but he could only direct his header over the top of Petr Cech's goal.
Chelsea's retort was immediate and as direct as their sharp suited new boss Mourinho on the touchline.
When a ball was pumped clear from Chelsea's box there seemed little danger but when Quinton Fortune lunged and allowed an awkward bounce to take it over his head, Chelsea were away.
Surprise choice Geremi was swift to counter and his chipped ball allowed Didier Drogba to demonstrate the full finesse of his aerial prowess.
Feeding a perfect header into the path of partner Eidur Gudjohnsen, the Icelandic striker was poised and cool in his dink over Tim Howard - netting with a neat finish.
Gudjohnsen's goal arrived in the fourteenth minute and moments later, Paul Scholes threatened to level the scores with a free-kick arrowed wide.
Fortune sent a wickedly whipped ball into the Chelsea box and then Paul Scholes, primarily operating in a role alongside Smith but frequently dropping deep for possession, missed the type of chance he normally dispatches.
A period of possession ended with Giggs laying off neatly but Scholes could only drag his effort wide of the Chelsea goal.
The pace was fierce but neither side looked capable of keeping sustained possession, with the ball frequently squandered to the snapping heels of each sides' workmanlike midfielders.
Drogba then looked to have ghosted beyond the United defence but this time Howard's intervention was more convincing and he did well to stop the forward doubling Chelsea's advantage.
England midfielder Frank Lampard drilled a free-kick wide on the edge of United's box but it was United who finished the stronger as the half drew to its close.
However, with John Terry edging a contest over a snarling Smith, Sir Alex Ferguson's depleted side were unable to create any opportunities of real worth.
It was United who began the second period brightest and were it not for an incisive block from Lampard, Scholes' drive a minute in would have tested Cech.
Alexei Smertin was a model of industry but without genuine width, Chelsea struggled to retain possession as United began to feed more regularly the previously peripheral Giggs.
United may have had more possession but too often passes were lacklustre and young Liam Miller in particular endured the type of debut best forgotten.
John OShea, playing in an uncustomary midfield role, managed to get a header onto the ball but like the game as a whole, it lacked direction and harmlessly drifted over.
On seventy minutes, Neville drilled an effort into the Chelsea box that Scholes narrowly failed to reach and then Stamford Bridge rose to welcome another new boy, as Mateja Kezman replaced the indifferent Drogba.
The next introduction from the bench came courtesy of Ferguson's decision to sacrifice the ineffective Djemba-Djemba for Diego Forlan.
An immediate impact was desired and in truth, the much maligned Uruguayan could have levelled with his first touch but for a timely intervention from Paulo Ferreira.
With ten minutes remaining, Giggs squandered United's solitary chance of genuine worth when he failed to head with conviction from Smith's floated ball in.
As the game reached its conclusion, United put on a pair of attacking substitutes in Kieran Richardson and David Bellion but neither starlet provided the attacking thrust they desperately needed.
Chelsea will be content to take maximum spoils but neither Ferguson or Mourinho will be over enthused after a game that failed to live up to expectations in almost every way.
Ferreira, Terry, Gallas, Bridge, Geremi (Carvalho 89), Makelele, Lampard,
Smertin, Gudjohnsen (Parker 82), Drogba (Kezman 70)
Subs Not Used Cudicini, Mutu
Goals Gudjohnsen 15
Howard, Neville G., Keane, Fortune (Bellion 84), OShea,
Miller (Richardson 84), Djemba-Djemba (Forlan 73), Scholes, Giggs,
Subs Not Used Ricardo, Neville P.
|Chelsea||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||1|
|4||Shots off Target||9|