Manchester United vs. Blackburn Rovers  2 - 3

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Yakubu: United win can inspire us

1 January 2012 18:24

Blackburn striker Yakubu feels his side can begin to push higher up the Premier League after their shock 3-2 victory over Manchester United.

The Nigerian scored twice for Rovers to give them the lead at Old Trafford, and despite Dimitar Berbatov levelling things up for the home side with a brace of his own, Grant Hanley headed home a late winner to give Steve Kean's men all three points.

The victory lifted them off the bottom of the table and Yakubu, who has scored 12 league goals this season, believes it is the perfect springboard to start pushing up the standings.

"We fought again and to come to Old Trafford and get three points is unbelievable," he told the club's official website.

"We have proved we deserve to be towards the top end of the league. It can provide the boost we need for the second half of the season."

"It is a great feeling. Credit to the players, we scored goals and kept fighting. It is a great day for the club."

"When you look at the team, some of the team are injured, but the players who played did really well."

Article

Ferguson critical of United defending

31 December 2011 18:58

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson rued his side's poor defending in their shock 3-2 loss to Blackburn at Old Trafford.

A brace from Rovers top scorer Yakubu was cancelled out by Dimitar Berbatov in the second half, but defender Grant Hanley headed home from a corner to earn a late victory for the Premier League strugglers.

"It is a disappointment - we can't believe it," Ferguson said. "We never expected that to happen."

"We have lost two terrible goals in the game and you cannot do that in games like this."

"They are fighting for their lives of course and you can expect them to put up that kind of fight. They were resilient, they defended really well and blocked shots around the goal-line all day but if you lose goals like we did, then it gives them a big opportunity to hang on."

United goalkeeper David De Gea was caught out of position by Hanley as he converted the decisive goal, but Sir Alex refused to place the blame solely on the young Spaniard.

"Yes, (De Gea could have done better), but I think we could all have done a lot better with (the third goal)," he said.

"We have got a lot of injuries at the moment but hopefully that will improve."

"We had to take a gamble on Anderson’s fitness, he has been training very well for 10 days now but obviously for his first game back it is not easy, but he didn’t let us down and did his best."

"Midfield is an area we were missing experience, like Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs."

Despite the defeat handing the initiative to rivals Manchester City in the title race, Ferguson remained confident that his team would put the surprise setback behind them.

"We can improve on today's performance and we won't put many other displays in like that. I'm still very confident we will have a real go this season," he said.

Following the remarkable result, embattled Blackburn manager Steve Kean called for a truce at Ewood Park with the club's supporters.

The 44-year-old has faced a barrage of criticism from certain sections of the Lancashire outfit's fanbase, but the much-needed three points may have brought the Scot some respite.

The win builds on last week's 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield, and Kean insists now is the time for supporters to get firmly behind the team.

"In the light of these results I hope it is time for a truce between me and fans who want me out," Kean told reporters.

"I have always respected the fans and the amount of mail we have got from Rovers fans from all over the world and other fans, just saying keep going and it has been nothing but positive messages."

"Obviously at the ground and within the local media it has been negative, which we have been really disappointed about, because it is at a time when we all need to get behind what we are trying to do and recognise how many players are not involved because they are in the treatment room."

"I have said over the last few months that the thing that sends the fans home happy are results and they have seen a result and a performance today and against Liverpool at Anfield on Boxing Day."

"But I am under no illusions that fans want to see the team win and we put pressure on ourselves when we don’t win at home and we were disappointing in our last two home games but we have turned that around."

Article

Premier League: Manchester United 2 Blackburn 3

31 December 2011 16:08

Manchester United were stunned by Blackburn as two Yakubu goals and a late winner from Grant Hanley gave Steve Kean's men a 3-2 victory.

Dimitar Berbatov pulled United level with two goals after Yakubu had sent Rovers into a shock two-goal lead at Old Trafford, but the home side failed to turn the screw and Hanley took advantage of some questionable goalkeeping from David De Gea to secure three points.

United were left stunned when Berbatov hauled down Chris Samba and referee Mike Dean duly pointed to the spot.

Yakubu sent the Spanish goalkeeper the wrong way to end any ideas Sir Alex Ferguson might have had a straightforward three points on his 70th birthday.

The home team continued to dominate possession but lacked the tempo required to really unsettle Blackburn's two lines of defence.

Phil Jones had a close range effort blocked and Javier Hernandez shot narrowly wide after turning on to his left foot, but otherwise chances remained few and far between.

Nani finally forced Mark Bunn to work when he stabbed at a shot the young goalkeeper did well to parry shortly before the break.

Anderson replaced Hernandez at half-time in order to provide a more stable presence in the centre of the park but, remarkably, the visitors struck again out of very little.

Michael Carrick failed to intercept a short throw-in to Yakubu and the Nigerian skipped past Jones with ease before firing through the legs of De Gea.

The insurance provided by the second goal did not last long. Kean did not even have time to bring on young defender Josh Morris to reinforce the Blackburn barricade before United had pulled a goal back.

After Antonio Valencia's cross from the right was blocked, Rafael fired the ball back across the six-yard box and Berbatov stooped to head past Bunn from close range.

United's shape was much better as a result of the introduction of Anderson, and they were putting much more pressure on Blackburn as they looked to play out from the back as a result.

After Rafael intercepted a poor clearance Valencia skipped past Adam Henley and cut the ball back for Berbatov; once again the Bulgarian made no mistake from close range and United were level.

Formica's shot from 20 yards might then have tested De Gea if it had not deflected wide off of Carrick, and the resulting corner was won too easily by Hanley, although the defender headed wide.

That was apparently not warning enough for United, as Hanley went one better with Rovers' next corner.

After the 20-year-old had beaten the flailing De Gea to head the ball back into the air, not a single red shirt reacted, allowing the young Scot to finish the job with another header to seal a memorable three points for his side.

Article

Premier League preview: Manchester United v Blackburn

30 December 2011 19:43

Now level on points with Premier League leaders Manchester City, Manchester United host Blackburn on Saturday keen to score a big win.

City lead United on goal difference after Roberto Mancini's side dropped points in a goalless draw at West Bromwich Albion on Monday, and Sir Alex Ferguson will be pressing his squad for a victory against Rovers as they try to peg back their fierce rivals, who are five goals better off.

Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat-trick against 10-man Wigan Athletic on Monday for a largely second-string United side without Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who were both ill, while Rio Ferdinand was out with a bad back.

Jones and Smalling remain in doubt against Blackburn and Jonny Evans will be out for two weeks after coming off with a calf injury against Wigan.

Ezekiel Fryers came on for Evans against Wigan and might be asked to deputise again if Jones and Smalling do not recover.

The midfield is where Ferguson's squad are particularly hard hit, with Ashley Young, Darren Fletcher, Anderson, Fabio and Tom Cleverley all out through injury or illness.

Ryan Giggs should continue as playmaker with Park Ji-Sung and Nani on the flanks if Michael Carrick has to cover for Ferdinand at centre-half.

Antonio Valencia filled in at right back against Wigan and will continue to do so until United's injury problem improves.

Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck have been Ferguson's preferred choices in attack this season but Berbatov might get a look-in again if Blackburn are resilient.

Blackburn had lost their past three games 2-1 - against Bolton, West Brom and Sunderland - before snatching a valuable 1-1 draw at Anfield on Boxing Day against Liverpool.

Manager Steve Kean has his work cut out, however, against a United side who have scored 47 goals so far this season and conceded only 14, the tightest backline in the league next to Liverpool.

Blackburn have won just two games this season, neither away from home, and will be looking to capitalise on United's injury problems to snatch a point.

Morten Gamst Pedersen and Yakubu have been Blackburn's only bright sparks this season with Pedersen in strong form and Yakubu scoring 10 league goals from 12 games.

Blackburn have conceded 39 goals so far this season - the second worst defence in the league - but with Christopher Samba back they should be tighter at the back, although Kean is still hoping New Zealander Ryan Nelsen can return alongside the Congolese centre back.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25