LONDON (AFP) - Wayne Rooney scored the only goal as Manchester United put one foot in the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over Chelsea. Rooney -- who has been at the centre of a furore over his foul-mouthed tirade at a television camera last weekend -- shrugged off his troubles to fire United ahead on 24 minutes. But the match ended in deep controversy after Chelsea were denied a clear penalty when Patrice Evra brought down Ramires in the penalty area deep into injury time. The victory was United's first over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 2002 and left Sir Alex Ferguson's side firm favourites to progress from the quarterfinals ahead of next Tuesday's second leg at Old Trafford. But the defeat has left Chelsea with a daunting task if they are to achieve their dream of winning the only piece of silverware that has eluded since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's 2003 takeover of the club. Only twice before in the Champions League knockout rounds has a team recovered from losing a first leg match at home to advance to the next round. Ferguson shrugged off the penalty claims afterwards. "To be honest I thought their player made the most of it," he said. "I haven't seen the replay but there is plenty to talk about with penalty claims and dives but I thought our players were great. Chelsea keeper Petr Cech was seething at the failure to earn a spot-kick. "I think everybody saw what happened, you can see clearly on the TV," he said. "But the most important person did not see it. "We lost the game and we have left ourselves a mountain to climb but we have to do it." A scrappy first half saw both sides struggled to establish dominance early on, 50-million-pound signing Fernando Torres testing United keeper Edwin van der Sar with a low shot after only seven minutes. Chelsea's early pressure almost resulted in a goal on 19 minutes when clever play released Didier Drogba inside the penalty area. The Ivorian striker's shot was firm but van der Sar was equal to the challenge, tipping over for a corner. United meanwhile appeared happy to soak up the pressure and look for openings on the break, and on 24 minutes they took the lead with their first meaningful foray into Chelsea territory. Michael Carrick swung a pass out to the right flank and the evergreen Ryan Giggs, 37, roared up on the left flank to beat Jose Bosingwa on the outside before cutting back to Rooney, whose low shot went in off the post. The goal stunned Chelsea and for much of the remainder of the half they looked out of sorts against an increasingly composed United. Torres gave United a brief scare on 35 minutes when he raced into the area and tumbled over under pressure from Vidic, but Spanish referee Alberto Undiano was unimpressed with half-hearted appeals for a penalty. Moments later United boss Ferguson was off his bench in protest after young striker Javier Hernandez was flattened by a high boot from Chelsea fullback Yuri Zhirkov, who was booked for the challenge. Yet as half-time neared Chelsea began to trouble United, and should have levelled when a cross from Drogba came back off the post and fell to Frank Lampard, whose close-range shot was cleared off the line by Evra. Chelsea enjoyed the better chances of the second half, Ramires heading wide on 50 minutes after good work by Drogba down the right. An overhead kick from Drogba went wide on 57 minutes, but United rarely looked in difficulty despite Chelsea's territorial dominance. A fractious encounter saw referee Undiano brandish his yellow card with regularity, Ramires and Essien both getting booked. Chelsea thought they had equalised on 74 minutes when Torres guided a fine header to the back post but van der Sar pulled off a wonderful save to preserve United's lead. As injury time wound down Chelsea had loud appeals for a penalty waved away after Evra brought down Ramires, but Undiano was unimpressed. To add insult to injury, Torres was then booked for diving after going over too easily in the penalty area.