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Wayne Rooney's pain as Ashley Cole has the last laugh in clash of football's bad boys

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02 Mar 2011 00:03:09

Wayne Rooney's pain as Ashley Cole has the last laugh in clash of football's bad boys

Matt Barlow gives his verdict on Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole after the two England players who shared a weekend to forget went head to head at Stamford Bridge... Forced smiles: Rooney shakes hands with Cole before the start of the match Body language ROONEY: Lucky to be playing according to Sir Alex Ferguson, but there was a real spring in Rooney's step and he bounded out to warm-up under a red woolly hat and fired footballs around as if nothing preyed upon his mind. Heavily jeered by the home crowd, who threw in the occasional x-rated chant, he didn't hide. Never still, always showing for a pass, with lots of life in his legs and how he enjoyed his goal, standing to attention in front of the Matthew Harding Stand and unfurling his arms. COLE: A Manchester United fan held up a banner saying: 'Ashley Don't Shoot' as the teams trooped out onto the pitch, Chelsea's ex-Gunner the very last to appear. There were wry smiles on United players' faces as they shook his hand in the pre-match ritual. Like Rooney, Cole has been here before, an easy target for so-called terrace wit and on-field sledgers. It comes with the territory when you leave Arsenal for Chelsea, then marry a popstar. He is well practised at blanking the 'Cashley' abuse and focusing on his football. The question is, did Gary Neville - watching among the away fans - join in? Attitude ROONEY: Snarling and scowling, in no way chastened by the public outcry which followed the elbow he planted on James McCarthy's head but without doing anything silly. He was moaning at Martin Atkinson within minutes, as he climbed to his feet after being blocked off the ball by Branislav Ivanovic and was back in the ref's ear when tempers started to fray in the second half. Chelsea fans reacted noisily when he seemed to body-check Ramires in the first-half but there was little wrong with the challenge and the ref called it right. He angered the Chelsea bench when he over-reacted to a challenge from behind from Luiz, which earned the Brazilian a booking. Then he controlled his fury when taken out by a cynical trip by Luiz which the referee missed and took his questions to the officials at the final whistle. COLE: Quickly into the game, flying forward, to link up down the left with Fernando Torres. 'Shoot' yelled Chelsea fans, who couldn't care less about his training ground pranks with an air-rifle. Just so long as he stays out of jail and on the pitch. A glancing header helped to win his team an early corner and he crunched into tackles in defence with an extra determination driving his game. He left Darren Fletcher in a heap early in the game and snapped into an excellent edge-of-the-box challenge to dispossess Nani. Impact ROONEY: Wasted his first chance of the night, a mistimed header from Nani cross, which Rooney somehow headed onto his own shoulder but this was swiftly forgotten on the half-hour. Rooney drifted deep away from the attention of his marker, David Luiz, spun and capitalised on the astonishing amount of space he was allowed by smashing a shot low past Petr Cech. Chelsea fought back but Mark Clattenburg may yet have had a decisive say in this year's title race with his assessment of that elbow on Wigan's McCarthy because the controversy surrounding Rooney seemed to stir his desire and fuel a fine display. COLE: Ferguson deployed Fletcher wide on the right in an attempt to smother Cole as an attacking force, a plan which worked well for Everton in the FA Cup, when Seamus Coleman spent the game policing the England left-back. It worked again for United. These tactics are beginning to give Carlo Ancelotti a problem. After a lively opening, Cole spent much of his time defending. United's mobile formation gave Ancelotti's back four a few problems and Fletcher was a regular danger on the ball. He did venture forward to take a free-kick, moments before half-time and drifted a shot harmlessly over the bar, but was only fleetingly seen in an attacking sense until the last five minutes when the game was blown wide open.   Martin Keown: You're a silly boy for losing your head, Vidic!Chelsea 2 Manchester United 1: Fergie calls for justice! Referee is target for outrage after Lampard penalty winnerLIVE: Chelsea 2 Manchester United 1 and Everton 0 Reading 1 - the action as it happenedGRAHAM POLL: Referee Atkinson got the big calls wrong and that cost United  Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Darren Fletcher, James McCarthy, Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres, Gary Neville, Nani, Carlo Ancelotti Places: United Kingdom


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