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United in final, Chelsea lead

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Defending champion Manchester United overcame arch-rival Manchester City to reach the League Cup final, but was toppled from the English Premier League summit by Chelsea yesterday.

Wayne Rooney scored in stoppage time to prevent the Manchester derby going into extra time, clinching a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford to send United through 4-3 on aggregate.

But in London, Frank Lampard scored twice as Chelsea cruised to a 3-0 victory over Birmingham to go a point ahead of United in the title race.

Arsenal were a further point adrift in third after being held to 0-0 at seventh-place Villa, which moved four points clear of crosstown rival Birmingham.

The focus of the night was on England's second-tier knockout competition, and second-half goals from Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick looked to have clinched a spot in the final for Alex Ferguson's side after overturning the 2-1 first-leg deficit.

But Carlos Tevez volleyed past former United teammate Edwin van der Sar in the 76th minute to level the semi-final at 3-3 on aggregate.

With away goals not counting until extra time, another 30 minutes was looming until Rooney headed past Shay Given in the second minute of stoppage time.

Unrelenting pressure

Birmingham arrived at Stamford Bridge on a club-record 15-match unbeaten run, but there was no way back after Chelsea scored inside six minutes. Florent Malouda was left unmarked in a prime central position to head in Joe Cole's cross from the right flank.

The pressure was unrelenting from Chelsea, with Ricardo Carvalho hitting the post and Lampard denied from 20 yards) by Joe Hart before the England midfielder strengthened the home side's lead.

Ballack squared to Lampard, who controlled the ball with his left boot before striking beyond Hart from 25 yards with his right.

Lampard added a third in the 90th, firing into the bottom right after being fed by Malouda.