Manchester United, Chelsea fail to deliver

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MANCHESTER, England — Wayne Rooney’s headline-grabbing presence couldn’t inspire Manchester United to victory in David Moyes’ first home game in charge as Chelsea ground out a 0-0 draw Monday in the Premier League’s first marquee matchup of the season.

Manchester United's Antonio Valencia (left) fights for the ball against Chelsea's Frank Lampard on Monday at Old Trafford Stadium.   JON SUPER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JON SUPER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Manchester United's Antonio Valencia (left) fights for the ball against Chelsea's Frank Lampard on Monday at Old Trafford Stadium.

Rooney, the subject of two bids from Chelsea over the summer, played the full 90 minutes in his first start of this season and was one of the few standout performers in a disappointing match at Old Trafford that failed to live up to its billing.

United had the better of a hard-fought, error-strewn game, with Danny Welbeck wasting its best chance in the second half, but the attacking spark that lifted them to a season-opening 4-1 win at Swansea last weekend was missing.

Rooney’s name on the United team sheet added extra spice to a match between two perennial title contenders that is always eagerly anticipated.

Just as eye-catching, though, was Mourinho’s surprise lineup that included six midfielders and no pure center forward.

What was essentially a 4-6-0 formation by the visitors ensured a congested midfield and few clear-cut chances at either end. Rooney, who was given a warm ovation by United fans and serenaded with chants of “We’ll see you next week” and “Sign him up” by the travelling Chelsea support, was neat and tidy throughout in his role behind Robin van Persie.

Van Persie has replaced Rooney as the leading striker at United but he couldn’t break down Chelsea’s sturdy center-back partnership of John Terry and Gary Cahill, with a 23rd-minute shot into the side-netting the Dutchman’s only real chance.

At the other end, Oscar had two low efforts easily saved by United goalkeeper David de Gea in the first half but Chelsea’s counter-attacks were sporadic and ineffective.

REAL MADRID 1, GRANADA 0

In Granada, Spain, Karim Benzema scored to give Real Madrid a victory at Granada in the Spanish league amid growing speculation the club is close to a blockbuster deal to sign Wales winger Gareth Bale.

Madrid started brightly thanks to the playmaking of Angel Di Maria which led to Benzema’s goal in the 10th minute, but left Granada with the chance to salvage a draw late.

Madrid’s offer to English club Tottenham for Bale is reportedly similar to the then $131 million it paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

FIORENTINA 2, CATANIA 1

In Florence, Italy, Fiorentina opened its Serie A season in style, beating Catania with goals from Giuseppe Rossi and David Pizarro.

U.S.-born forward Rossi put the Tuscan squad ahead with his first goal after two years of injuries.


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