United beat Chelsea 3-1 in Premier League
MANCHESTER, England (AP) -Nani made sure his 100th Premier League game was one of his best, scoring one goal and creating another as Manchester United beat Chelsea 3-1 Sunday to maintain a perfect start to the season.
The victory was another dominant display against a top rival by United, which has scored 21 goals in its first five league games of the season - including an 8-2 rout against Arsenal.
With five straight victories, it's United's best start to a season since it won 10 straight in 1985 - the year before Alex Ferguson took over as manager.
"We thought the fixture list had given us a real test. We're getting the tough ones early on but you've got to have them sometime,'' Ferguson said. "We're enjoying our football, playing with great enthusiasm and threat and we could have scored six or seven. That threat is encouraging us all.''
Nani was the main architect for United at Old Trafford on Sunday. After Chris Smalling scored his first goal for United in the eighth minute - beating the offside trap to head in Ashley Young's free kick - Nani added one of his best. The Portugal winger controlled Jonny Evans' diagonal pass and took on three defenders before launching a fierce strike from outside the area into the top of the net.
Nani then helped set up the third for Wayne Rooney to tap into an open net just before the break, with United looking close to unstoppable in its quest for a 20th Premier League table
But Fernando Torres pulled one back just after halftime, displaying some of the delicate touch that seemed to desert him after transferring from Liverpool last season by chipping the ball over United goalkeeper David De Gea. However, the Spain striker followed that up with one of the worst misses of his career toward the end, when he rounded De Gea only to shoot wide of the open net.
In between, Rooney had wasted a chance to put the game away for United by missing a penalty in the 57th. Nani was fouled in the area by Jose Bosingwa after hitting the bar and collecting the rebound himself, but Rooney slipped just as he took the penalty, with the ball deflecting off his left foot before going wide.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said he was encouraged by Torres' performance, despite the late blunder.
"You have an example of Rooney missing a penalty too, which is basically the same,'' Villas-Boas said. "The worst things happen to the best strikers in the world and today it happened to both of them.''
The win means United equaled a club record of 18 straight home league victories, set in 1904-05. It was the defending champion's fifth straight victory to start the season and gave it the sole lead atop the standings after Manchester City drew 2-2 at Fulham.
"It was a fantastic, open match but we created our own problems for ourselves,'' Ferguson said. "We gave the ball away in attacking areas and they kept counterattacking us.''
Chelsea had a bright start and De Gea blocked a volley from Ramires with his legs before Daniel Sturridge shot wide inside the first four minutes.
Torres also had a chance to make it 1-1 after intercepting a sloppy pass from Anderson, but sent his shot just wide.
The only drawback for United was that Javier Hernandez limped off in the second half after a tough challenge by Ashley Cole in the area.
"He's very reckless at times, Ashley Cole,'' Ferguson said. "He's committed and at times being committed, you can go over the edge a bit and that was an example of that. It was a shocking challenge.''