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"We had Chelsea rattled": Giggs
Updated: 2005-01-28 09:50

Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane are convinced Manchester United have every reason to remain positive despite having Sir Alex Ferguson's proud domestic semi-final record wrecked by Chelsea.

Chelsea's Damien Duff (L) celebrates with teammates Frank Lampard (C) and Eidur Gudjohnsen. Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard was forced to relive the worst moment of his career as Chelsea booked a League Cup final date with Liverpool with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. [AFP]

Having seen last night's GiCarling Cup clash built up as the game which could pitch Jose Mourinho's side into the form slide they have yet to suffer on their march towards an unprecedented quadruple, defeat for the hosts at Old Trafford could leave United fans worrying about the hangover effect their own side will suffer.

The League Cup may never have been a particularly lucky competition for the Red Devils and it certainly ranks a miserable fourth on Ferguson's list of priorities.

But given the desire and hunger with which the Red Devils approached their task, an eventual 2-1 home loss to a side that already holds a massive 11 point advantage in the title race does not inspire any belief that it will eventually be clawed back.

Instead of looking on the negative side though, Giggs and Keane prefer to focus on the more pleasing aspects of their night's work.

For the Welshman it was the knowledge that Chelsea found themselves on the rack at times as they struggled to contain United's second-half surge, while his captain is experienced enough to see the signs that indicate an immediate return to winning ways in the FA Cup against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

"When we upped the tempo of our play in the second half, I didn't think Chelsea could live with us," said Giggs, whose brilliant equaliser looked set to turn the contest United's way.

"We all recognise Chelsea are a quality side but I have not seen them rattled like that before. Once we scored, it looked like there would only be one winner."

"Even when they got the second we had a couple of chances to equalise. We definitely felt we did enough to get something out of the game but I suppose if you make mistakes in a semi-final against a team as good as they are, you will get punished."

Keane's theme was remarkably similar and though the veteran Irishman will be suspended for the weekend visit of Steve McClaren's men, he has no doubt United will recover.

"We will be fine," he said. "We will bounce back from this."

"We feel hard done by because we were the better side after half-time. Although it looked like we were heading for extra-time, the momentum was with us."

"People can be quick to criticise but you have to give credit to Chelsea as well. We don't believe we got the rub of the green but in some senses you make your own luck and they have benefited from us giving them too soft goals."

Neither man was prepared to blame Tim Howard for Damien Duff's late winner, following the lead of their manager who condemned the failure of his team's defence to clear the free-kick that floated over a sea of bodies before creeping in.

Though condemnation of Howard is harsh given the American produced two outstanding second half saves to keep United in the contest, coming just three weeks after Roy Carroll's blunder against Tottenham, it just highlighted the goalkeeping problems Ferguson has suffered since Peter Schmeichel quit in 1999.

In contrast, Chelsea have two players of immense talent at their disposal, with Mourinho so confident in his number two that Carlo Cudicini has already been installed as his final keeper even though Petr Cech's last-gasp stop to deny Cristiano Ronaldo prevented the game heading into extra-time.

With Arsenal to come next Tuesday, AC Milan limbering up for their forthcoming Champions League visit and no time to bring in a reinforcement, Ferguson must hope Carroll and Howard can cut out the mistakes otherwise his team will end the season empty-handed.

Howard is likely to keep his place for the Middlesbrough encounter but changes appear inevitable with Alan Smith and Wayne Rooney certainties to start following Louis Saha's below-par performance.

"After last night's disappointment another big game on Saturday is exactly what we need,"said Giggs.

"It's not as though we ended the game poorly or didn't play well. The first half could have been better but we can take a lot out of our performance and hopefully we will get back on the winning track against Middlesbrough."

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