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Saturday, 20 April, 2002, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Man Utd crush Chelsea
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is frustrated against Man Utd
Chelsea 0-3 Manchester United
  Photo Gallery: See this match in pictures
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Manchester United turned up the heat on the Premiership pace-setters with a crucial win at Chelsea.

Paul Scholes opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick, and Ruud van Nistelrooy added the second before half-time to establish the platform for a victory that keeps their title hopes alive.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's late third was the fitting final flourish on a performance that will have delighted Sir Alex Ferguson.

It was hard for us to make Champions League before - now it is more difficult for us
Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri
FA Cup finalists Chelsea started well - but were hit by that Scholes stunner and suffered a severe blow to their Champions League hopes as they were well beaten.

Claudio Ranieri's side were also given a scare when striker Eidur Gudjohnsen limped off with an ankle injury, but Chelsea are hopeful it is not serious.

Manchester United may have their sights set on the Champions League semi-final against Bayer Leverkusen, but they made light of the absence of injured trio David Beckham, Roy Keane and Juan Sebastian Veron to win at a canter.

Man Utd's players celebrate hitting the target

Chelsea exerted almost total domination on the early exchanges, but were hit by a vicious sucker-punch from Scholes.

Jesper Gronkjaer was booked for fouling Van Nistelrooy, and Scholes delivered the ultimate punishment by powering a brilliant 30-yard free-kick past Carlo Cudicini.

Cudicini brilliantly denied Van Nistelrooy the opportunity to double the advantage after 21 minutes when he was released by Solskjaer.

Van Nistelrooy looked odds-on to score, but Cudicini blocked brilliantly.

But the newly-elected PFA Player of the Year was not to be denied for long, and he made no mistake when Solskjaer presented him with another clear run on Cudicini after 40 minutes.

This time Cudicini was powerless to prevent Van Nistelrooy waltzing elegantly around him to roll the ball into an unguarded net.

To get a 3-0 win at Chelsea is a marvellous result
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Chelsea brought on Boudewijn Zenden for the injured Gudjohnsen at the start of the second half, but it did little to stop United's comfortable progress towards another excellent victory on their travels.

Cudicini won another round in his personal battle with Van Nistelrooy after 69 minutes as United attempted to kill off the contest.

The Italian was forced to save a Ryan Giggs shot with his feet, but as Van Nistelrooy closed in for what seemed a certain third, he regained his balance to make a dramatic stop.

It was turning into a stroll in the Stamford Bridge sunshine for the champions, and they simply emphasised their huge superiority with a great third goal.

Van Nistelrooy performed the not inconsiderable feat of leaving Marcel Desailly trailing in his wake, and even though he set Giggs up, the Welshman unselfishly passed to Solskjaer for the easiest of finishes.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Gallas, Desailly, Terry, Melchiot, Gronkjaer, Petit (Dalla Bona 78), Lampard, Zola, Gudjohnsen (Zenden 45), Hasselbaink.
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Jokanovic, Huth.
Booked: Gronkjaer, Gallas, Hasselbaink, Dalla Bona.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, Blanc, Brown, Fortune (Phil Neville 42), Silvestre, Scholes, Butt, Giggs (Forlan 87), Solskjaer, van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Carroll, Irwin, O'Shea.
Booked: Solskjaer.

Attendance: 41,725

Referee: G Barber (Tring).

Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"There's no one better at striking balls outside the box than Paul Scholes"
Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri
"We didn't play today"
BBC Sport's Mike Ingham
"The second half was a stroll for United"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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